Asbestos claims during lockdown
JUSTICE FOR FORMER C.E.G.B. POWER STATION WORKER WITH ASBESTOS RELATED MESOTHELIOMA
There is a consensus amongst the lawyers in our asbestos team that meeting clients and their families at home is the best part of the job. So, as we mobilised to work from home at the start of lockdown, we realised with sadness that it wouldn’t be possible for a while: most clients are over 70, suffering respiratory illness and must strictly shield.
For established clients, it’s been fine. We already have a good rapport after several face to face meetings. Progressing their claims has been relatively seamless. We can discuss matters on the phone and hope that a friendly voice can make a difference at this time of isolation.
As for new clients, it remained to be seen how quickly we could progress the claims during lockdown.
I was approached by the family of a former power station worker who, tragically, had recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma (terminal asbestos related cancer). He now lives near Aberdeen (640 miles from me), although his asbestos exposure had been in Northern England. He needed an English or Welsh lawyer, as Scotland is a separate jurisdiction.
Frankly, the distance did not matter. As I explained to Bill, because he was shielding, I would not be meeting him in person even if he lived next door. So, over the phone, we discussed Bill’s asbestos exposure and how his illness has affected him.
Previously he was incredibly fit and active: enjoying fellwalking, cycling and running half marathons.
He’d been exposed daily to asbestos between 1965 and 1974 whilst working as an apprentice mechanical fitter and then as a qualified tradesman. Given their nationalised status, his employers the CEGB formed part of the state and, although they knew by 1965 at the latest that inhaling even small quantities of asbestos could be deadly, they did absolutely nothing to protect him.
The current company responsible for the CEGB’s actions were quickly identified and, within three weeks of our taking instructions from Bill, they admitted liability.
Four weeks later, they signed a cheque for an upfront payment of £50,000. Bill’s claim will be worth much more than this, but, where possible, we request a £50,000 interim payment at an early stage in mesothelioma cases.
Perhaps most importantly, the defendant has agreed to favourably consider funding immunotherapy: an expensive but potentially life-prolonging treatment not funded through the NHS, should Bill’s oncologist think it suitable.
So, we can achieve a good deal during lockdown despite not having the luxury of seeing clients in person. Although, I look forward to the day that we can meet clients again, strictly following advice regarding Covid precautions, of course. Our absolute priority is the wellbeing of our clients and we would never want to put them to any additional risk.
Liz is a solicitor specialising in asbestos claims at Wolferstans in Plymouth and can be reached on 01752 292320.