Pleural Thickening may also be described as “pleural fibrosis”. Either term may be combined with the word “diffuse” (e.g. “diffuse pleural fibrosis”). This simply means that the area affected is widespread.
When microscopic asbestos fibres become lodged in the lungs they can cause inflammation of the “pleura” (i.e. the thin, transparent membrane that covers the lungs and lines the inside of the chest walls). Even with long-standing or severe inflammation, often only a slight amount of scar tissue remains after complete healing. However the lung occasionally becomes encased in a thick fibrous layer that limits chest wall motion and impairs the function of the lungs.
You can become breathless and suffer pain as a result of this condition that might also deteriorate. It can affect one lung or both lungs, and can result in significant disability if it is extensive. It will generally take 10 years after first exposure to asbestos to develop. Alternatively it may not prove disabling or produce significant physical symptoms but is the cause of great anxiety.
Pleural thickening can be detected by chest x-rays, ultrasound and a special scan called a CAT or CT scan.
The presence of pleural thickening can indicate that you are at risk of developing a more serious asbestos related disease such as asbestosis, mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer.
Provided your job involved working with asbestos or being exposed to asbestos after 4 July 1948 then Department for Work and Pensions (“DWP”) Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit can be claimed.
It may also be possible to obtain civil compensation by suing your previous employer/s. Awards vary, depending on the degree of disability.
If you are unable to sue your former employer because, for example, they have ceased to trade(and you are unable to trace their insurers), 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.
Call Philip Thompson, Mark Thompson, Jacqueline Rafferty or Helen Roberts free on 0800 7313982
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