Industrial Disease

Widow Obtains Compensation For Late Husband's Asbestos Exposure

A widow came to IBB Law following the death of her husband. Her husband had worked for about 20 years for the same employer in Horton Road, West Drayton, where he was employed as a Wood Machinist. Despite being referred to as a “wood” machinist, the deceased was required to use a saw to cut a number of materials, including, on a routine and regular basis, asbestos sheeting that was used for roofing. As a result of the work with asbestos, the cutting shed would be full of asbestos particles, visible in the air. The deceased used to describe the atmosphere in his workplace as “like working in a snow globe”.  There were no fans or extractors, or other forms of ventilation in the cutting shed.

We were instructed to pursue a claim for compensation against that company on the basis that they had exposed her husband to dangerous asbestos fibres, which caused his untimely and painful death. Unfortunately, the company that the deceased work for no longer traded and therefore enquiries were difficult, but ultimately we were able to trace those who were responsible and had the funds to settle a claim for compensation.

We were able to research information about the company and obtain evidence from others who worked at the factory. We were also able to obtain evidence from other members of the family, who were able to give detailed evidence as to the exposure to asbestos, including the fact that the deceased would wear his overalls to and from work, the consequence of which was that he would come home with asbestos dust upon him, creating a risk to his wife and children too.  At the end of a working day the deceased would bathe every evening to remove the particles from his body and hair.

Asbestos is a generic name given to fibrous minerals that have been used in commercial products. The six types of asbestos are: chrysotile (white asbestos), the most widely used; crocidolite (blue asbestos); amosite (brown asbestos); anthophyllite asbestos; tremolite asbestos; and actinolite asbestos. Chrysotile belongs to the serpentine group of minerals and all the others belong to the amphibole group of minerals. Crocidolite and amosite are the only amphiboles that have significant industrial uses. It was through the exposure to asbestos that the deceased developed and ultimately died from lung cancer. The employer was held legally responsible for his death on the basis that they had failed to take sufficient measures to protect him from harm.

Medical evidence was obtained to support the allegation that the deceased had died from exposure to asbestos. Family members were able to give vital evidence about the work that the disease carried out, how he brought the asbestos fibres home on his overalls and, sadly, the detrimental effect upon his health.   

Unfortunately, during the course of the claim the deceased’ widow also died, of natural causes. However, her son was able to take over conduct of the proceedings and continue to pursue the claim for compensation arising out of his father’s untimely demise.

Regrettably, the insurers acting on behalf of the deceased’s company would not except liability and denied that they had exposed the deceased to asbestos, that could be attributed to his death.   Due to the denial of legal responsibility legal proceedings had to be commenced but despite this the claim was still resisted by those who now represented the employer. Therefore, the court set a timetable for the case to be resolved, including a date for the trial, to determine legal responsibility and if the case is exceeded, to determine the appropriate level of compensation.

Following pressure from IBB Law, the insurers and solicitors for the company that the deceased worked for, conceded that they did not have any evidence to resist our claim and therefore we were able to enter into sensible negotiations about a settlement well. It was a great shame that they had not admitted responsibility much earlier in the case and particularly while the deceased’s widow was still alive. 

Even during the settlement negotiations, the insurers made several unrealistic offers but ultimately offered a sum that reflected a reasonable level of compensation for the loss of the deceased, although no amount of money can make up for the loss of a husband and father.

His son was pleased with the outcome and, particularly, that by making the payment the insurers had finally accepted that the employer had caused his father’s death.

Contact our asbestos claims solicitors today

If you would like further information on how to obtain compensation for asbestos related diseases, contact our abuse compensation experts today. To discuss your situation in a safe, sensitive way and find out more about your options, please call  0333 123 9099 or contact Malcolm Underhill directly by email at malcolm.Underhill@ibbclaims.co.uk