Although the dangers of asbestos are now well-known, thousands of people are still affected by past exposure to the fibre once so commonly used in building work. Every year more than 5000 people die from diseases caused by exposure to asbestos, and that figure includes around 20 former tradesmen each week.
Victims who were exposed to asbestos through their working environment often claimed compensation for their condition through established routes, usually in the form of Union-based legal advice.
And, until recently, many were limited in the level of compensation they could claim, as legal firms and some insurance companies use a standard framework agreement to asses how much compensation individuals are entitled to.
But now a landmark ruling by the Court of Session has opened the door for victims to receive full and fair compensation, with higher financial settlements.
Specialist industrial disease lawyers at Digby Brown Solicitors decided to challenge the traditional framework for compensation in 2014, and recently won a case on behalf of an electrician who was exposed to asbestos at work.
William Wales suffers from Pleural Plaques, an asbestos related lung condition, which he was exposed to while working aboard ships between 1963 and 1973.
After a lengthy legal process, a judge awarded William £8,500 in compensation – more than twice the amount usually awarded to asbestos victims with similar related health conditions.
Digby Brown won William’s case by arguing that the rightful amount of compensation awarded to victims should be based on the impact an asbestos-related condition has on an individual’s health, and the anxiety and distress it causes them – not on a standard pre-agreed framework.
The case was the first of its kind to be heard in Scotland since 2009, and the precedent could now help people throughout the West of Scotland access fair and proper compensation after being exposed to asbestos through work.