Before our group was formed in Liverpool, victims of asbestos related diseases had no one point of access for advice or services. They had been left seeking advice and support from a variety of organisations and individuals, including friends, doctors, trade unions, welfare rights and solicitors. Often we are told by victims the advice they received was often incomplete and in many cases exasperated the victims claim, this is not uncommon.
Asbestos claims both civil and state are very complex and we have several examples of solicitors giving completely wrong advice to victims jeopardising claims. We have examples of welfare rights workers giving victims incomplete advice which again exasperated the victim’s or widow/widower’s claim.
There have been several examples of coroners courts in Liverpool reporting disputable cause of death on death certificates when asbestos may have been the cause of death or a contributory factor. We have in the past advised a widower who’s wife died of mesotheiioma, a cancer extremely rare in the general population, the incidence is 1 per 2.2 million people when not associated with asbestos exposure. The coroner had recorded the death as natural causes. This was despite the fact her husband was an asbestos lagger. His wife would regularly clean his dusty overalls by banging then against the wall in the back yard before washing them by hand. His employment is recorded on his wife’s death certificate. A solicitor had told the husband he had no claim.
The nature of asbestos civil claims make it very difficult for victims to claim; years in 95% of the case they are referring to asbestos exposure some 30 to 40 ago. However a case cannot proceed without proof of employment at a place of work where the claimant was exposed to asbestos. The claimant also has to produce witiesses-to -that exposure. This may mean a 60 year old building worker who may have worked with asbestos in the 1950’s on a small maintenance job, will have to produce eye wItness accounts to his asbestos exposure from as long as 30 or 40 years ago. This makes it extremely difficult for claims to proceed.
The difficulty experienced by victims trying to gain a D.W.P. Industrial Injuries Benefit are so complex and difficult we have not the space to list all the problems encountered by victims trying to gain Industrial Injuries Benefit. Suffice to say we already represent victims at Medical Tribunals and offer advice and support to all victims who are attempting to gain a D.W.P. benefit. We offer a home visit service to terminally ill victims too ill to travel.