Lung cancer refers to any type of malignant tumour that originates in the lung itself (unlike mesothelioma, where the tumours usually occur in the pleural lining around the lung.) This is the same sort of cancer as that caused by smoking. People who have asbestosis (or diffuse pleural thickening) and who also smoke cigarettes are much more likely to get lung cancer than people who have asbestosis and are not smokers.
It usually takes 20 years or more from being exposed to asbestos before lung cancer develops. All asbestos exposure up to the time of development of clinically obvious asbestosis is relevant both in terms of future risks and current disability.
Between 1 in 20 and 1 in 50 individuals with lung cancer are still alive 5 years after the diagnosis is made.
The Department for Work and Pensions (“DWP”) and courts are very reluctant to accept the connection between lung cancer and asbestos in the absence of any other evidence. The DWP will only accept benefit claims if their special medical board also diagnose asbestosis or a certain amount of diffuse pleural thickening.
If a claim is accepted by the DWP then civil compensation can be claimed. If you are unable to sue your former employer because, for example, they have ceased to trade, then you still may be able to claim under the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979 which provides a scheme under which qualifying employees are entitled to a one-off lump sum payment.
In a court action, it is difficult to prove that lung cancer is caused by asbestos dust if you do not already have asbestosis. So it is difficult, but not impossible, to get compensation for lung cancer without asbestosis. But if tests on your lungs show you have inhaled a large number of asbestos fibres, many doctors believe this can cause lung cancer, without first causing asbestosis.
If you are successful with a claim you would usually recover a sum for pain and suffering caused by the asbestos related lung cancer itself. In addition, you will get compensation for loss of earnings, and the value of care your family and friends give you, the cost of professional nursing care and any special aids/adaptations you need to buy.
Call Philip Thompson, Mark Thompson, Jacqueline Rafferty or Helen Roberts free on 0800 7313982
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