Asbestos is a general term for a group of naturally occurring minerals. Asbestos minerals can be separated into strong, very fine fibres that are durable, flexible and heat resistant. Because of these qualities, asbestos has been used in many industrial and consumer products for example in asbestos cement sheeting (or more commonly known as 'fibro') and in insulation products.
Asbestos presents a hazard if fibres of a respirable size become airborne and are then inhaled.
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Australians have been exposed to asbestos at some time throughout their life. As a result of this exposure, people can, and have contracted asbestos conditions.
Asbestos conditions include mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, asbestos related pleural disease, pleural thickening and pleural plaques. These conditions usually have a long latency period between the date the worker was exposed, and the date the condition develops. For example, the average latency period for mesothelioma is approximately 35 years.
Workers such as carpenters, laggers, power station workers, labourers, those who were in the Australian Navy and those employed in the asbestos industries represent some of the groups that have been most affected by the dangerous effects of asbestos. However, cases of mesothelioma have been known to occur in persons exposed to a very small quantity of asbestos.
The dangers of asbestos have been known about for many years. Numerous studies and papers have been published from the early 1900's onwards in respect of its dangers. Unfortunately, the dangers of asbestos were ignored and as a result, there are increasing numbers of people developing asbestos conditions.
Making a claim for damages
Depending on the state in which you live, there are various ways in which you can seek compensation in situations where a former employer acted negligently in respect of your exposure to asbestos. Action can even be taken in the state in which you worked even though you now reside in a different state.
It is critically important that you contact a solicitor who is experienced in this form of litigation. Acting through an inexperienced solicitor can harm your case and negate your ability to seek compensation.
Depending on the law firm, the first consultation is usually free.
If you solicitor forms the view that you have a viable claim, they will most likely undertake work on your behalf on a 'no win, no fee' cost arrangement. That is, throughout the duration of your case, they will fund all disbursements such as filing fees, the payment of medical and expert reports, investigation expenses, photocopying expenses and other administration expenses. The costs of these disbursements will only be recoverable if you are successful in your claim. Further, the cost of their professional time will only be recoverable if you are successful. In other words, they only get paid if you win your case. If unsuccessful in the action, the litigant may be ordered to pay the other parties costs, but not your solicitor's costs. This however must be looked at in its proper perspective keeping in mind the advice you receive from your solicitor both initially and throughout your case.
FURTHER INFORMATION AND ASSISTANCE
Consulting with a solicitor in relation to a possible claim for damages is perceived as a daunting experience. This perception is often made worse when the client has contracted an asbestos condition, and in particular one of a malignant nature. However, it is important that you and your family are fully aware of your rights so that an informed decision can be made.
It is critically important that you seek legal advice from a solicitor experienced in Asbestos Litigation.
Please call AussieLegal on 1300 728 200 for assistance and a referral to a recommended specialist law firm.