“We all felt we were in expert hands from the outset and it continued that way throughout.”
Mrs Pam Sunderland, widow of Ken Sunderland

A Silent Threat

Asbestos is a health risk when fibres are present in the air that people breathe.

Today, it is the greatest single cause of work related deaths in the UK and a damning indictment of previous corporate negligence.

Mesothelioma, the subject of this leaflet, is a fatal form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibres.

The importing and use of asbestos has been banned in the UK. But symptoms from asbestos related illnesses can take a long time to appear - between 10 and 40 years after exposure has ceased, sometimes longer.

Many people suffering now were exposed to asbestos way back in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Once mesothelioma has developed, symptoms can sometimes be eased but there is no cure.

For a person or their family in this terrible situation, claiming compensation can both help by providing financial security and bring some sense of acting against a grievous injustice.

What follows here is a brief guide to how Thompsons can help you pursue such a claim.

Claiming compensation – how Thompsons can help you.

Over the last five years alone, we’ve dealt with hundreds of claims for mesothelioma.

We’ve achieved substantial compensation levels for our clients. And done so with the least possible upset to them.

Indeed, though we have a formidable reputation for fighting hard for the maximum compensation in the minimum time, we also never forget that the diagnosis of mesothelioma causes shock, anger and deep distress.

We conduct ourselves with respect for that too.

Here are 5 vital points for you to consider.

1. Have you been diagnosed with Mesothelioma?

If so, seek legal advice promptly - there are time limits for making a claim.

If you are, or were, a member of a Trade Union claiming compensation will be free through your Union’s legal assistance scheme. (If you are unsure which union you were in when you were exposed to asbestos contact us and we should be able to help.)

If you are not a member of a Union, or are not covered by their scheme, we will assess your case.

Thompsons have won groundbreaking cases in this field. Including the first ever successful asbestos compensation claim in 1972.

2. Where were you exposed to asbestos?

As mentioned, asbestos related illnesses, including mesothelioma, can take anything from 10 to 40 years or more to develop after exposure to asbestos.

Some of the jobs where asbestos exposure may have occurred include:

  • Construction workers 
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • Fitters
  • Boilermakers
  • Shipbuilders
  • Carpenters
  • Joiners

But you could have worked in other jobs where asbestos was present.

So it’s important to think back to the time, or times – possibly in more than one job, when you believe you were exposed.

3. The liability of your employer or ex-employer.

Your employer is, or was, responsible for protecting you from exposure to asbestos at work.

In most cases, we can claim compensation from your employer, or past employer, for failing to provide such protection and the consequences suffered by you. (Thompsons only work for injured people, never for insurance companies or employers).

Even if your employer no longer exists it may still be possible to pursue a claim – by Thompsons tracing your defunct employer’s insurers.

And in cases where we are unable to locate an employer’s insurer, you will still be entitled to claim a lump sum payment from the Government.

4. How much compensation might be awarded?

Compensation payable varies in each case and is calculated by considering factors including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Financial losses
  • Care costs
  • Other expenses incurred as a result of asbestos-related illness.

We will claim compensation for all past and future losses. Our aim is to maximise your compensation in the shortest possible time.

We have a proven track record of successfully concluding mesothelioma claims during the lifetime of our clients despite their limited life expectancy. And we understand the importance of knowing that the client’s family will be financially secure.

5. What about State Benefit claims?

Any such claims are made separately to your claim for compensation.

Further down this page are the freephone numbers for the DWP benefit enquiry helpline and for claims under the Workers Compensation Act 1979 and 2008 Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme.

As are the phone numbers for Mesothelioma UK and for the Forum of Asbestos Victim Support Groups.

Here are the stories of two of our recent mesothelioma clients.

“Once my late husband, Ken, knew his condition was mesothelioma and terminal he set about making provision for this in various ways.”
Mrs Pam Sunderland

“Of extremely high importance and urgency was to get expert help in pursuing a claim for compensation. Initially, he chose a firm of solicitors who asked him to obtain a lot of information about his working past and where and how he might have been exposed to asbestos.

This took Ken a lot of time and research – at a time when he was also pursuing various treatments for his condition.

But once he sent the information in to the solicitors he heard nothing back. His calls weren’t returned and he found he had to chase the solicitors, who then said they were “very busy”.

Given Ken’s condition and time being of the essence he felt he should be treated better. Instead, stress was being added to an already horrible situation.

Ken decided to find another solicitor and my daughters, Joanne & Shirley, started doing the same on his behalf.

They were both asking around at the same time and came up with the same name at the same time – Thompsons Solicitors.

Thompsons couldn’t have been more different from the other solicitors – it was such a relief!

We all felt we were in expert hands from the outset and it continued that way throughout. Everything was dealt with promptly, efficiently and very knowledgably, including the obtaining of expert specialist evidence.

And the settlement was reached in 14 months with stage payments being received during the process.

I know that Ken was grateful for all Thompsons help.”
Mrs Pam Sunderland

“We went with Thompsons and, in a word, they were great!”
Jane Jones (daughter of George Dickerson)

“My father died of mesothelioma in 2006. As a child he’d played in the streets near an asbestos factory.

Extractor fans blew a lethal dust out and he and some of his friends used to play snowball fighting with it. Many years later it killed him.

But before it did, my father became very angry that he had been exposed to asbestos at such a vulnerable age, and that the factory had done nothing to protect local residents. In deciding to pursue a claim for compensation, as well as providing help for his family, he wanted to make people aware of the consequences of the factory’s negligence. And he wanted them to take responsibility.

I already knew of Thompsons ... and, in a word, they were great!

Thompsons’ medical specialist clearly identified the source of my father’s condition and the company concerned admitted responsibility quite early on.

It showed how important it is to have the right people and information to fight with!

My father would have been delighted with the settlement and equally delighted that the firm had accepted responsibility.”

Useful contacts

Mesothelioma UK (the National Macmillan Mesothelioma Resource Centre):
0800 169 2409

DWP – Pneumoconiosis (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979 and 2008 Diffuse
Mesothelioma Scheme
Freephone 0800 279 2322

Department for Work and Pensions benefit enquiry line:
Freephone 0800 88 22 00
Textphone 0800 24 33 55

Forum of Asbestos Victim Support Groups:
Tony Whitston (Chair)
Tel: 0161 363 7555

Further Information

Simply call 08000 224 224 for expert legal advice.

The information contained in this brochure is not a substitute for legal advice, and only applies in England and Wales.

You should talk to a lawyer or adviser before making a decision about what to do.

Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

May 2010