Asbestos FAQs

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Asbestos FAQs

More than 5000 people a year in the UK die from asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and asbestos-related lung cancer, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Many more are living with the life-limiting impact of these terrible diseases, which can have a devastating impact on sufferers and their families.

For many people, claiming compensation is essential to deal with the practical issues an asbestos-related illness or death can cause. We understand how confusing and upsetting a situation like this can be, so below we have answered some of the most common questions our asbestos claims team get asked to help demystify the asbestos claims process.

Looking to find out more about starting a claim or have a question we haven’t answered here? Please contact our friendly, expert asbestos claims lawyers now by calling 0333 123 9099 or you can request a call back and we will get back to you promptly.

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What diseases are caused by exposure to asbestos?

Exposure to asbestos causes a number of diseases, asbestosis, pleural plaques, mesothelioma and lung cancer.

What is pleural plaques?

This is the least serious disease arising out of exposure to asbestos. Plaques are scars on the lining of the lung. An individual will not know he has the scars and very often there are no physical symptoms.

What is asbestosis?

This is type of lung scarring caused by inhaling asbestos fibres, most frequently occurring from workplace and employment exposure. It is a non-cancerous condition. A notable symptom is breathlessness. It cannot be reversed and may progress to cause lung cancer.

What is lung cancer?

Although lung cancer is associated with smoking it can also be caused by exposure to asbestos.

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer most commonly associated with exposure to asbestos. It is a cancer of the lining of the lungs and in some cases to the lining of the abdomen (peritoneal). Unfortunately, the prognosis is bleak.

For how long has it been known that exposure to asbestos is harmful?

Asbestos has been used for over 1000 years, although modern use of this material began at the end of the 19th century, following discovery of asbestos in Canada. By the end of that century concerns were being raised about the potential adverse effects of exposure to asbestos. This concern grew in the UK, with the Home Office undertaking a study in the 1920s. Knowledge of the potential harmful effects from exposure to asbestos grew over the following decades, with the introduction of regulation. Importantly, it was in around the 1960s that employers knew or should have known about the dangers and taken appropriate steps to protect their workers.

What is an industrial disease?

An industrial disease is a long-term illness than a person contracts due to prolonged exposure to harmful substances or working in an unsafe environment.  These occupational illnesses should not be taken lightly, as the debilitating nature of these industrial diseases can have a huge impact on a person’s life, not only physically, but upon their mental health too. Many who suffer from industrial diseases do so as a result of an employer’s negligence. It is therefore vital to speak to a specialist solicitor who is able to provide further information and if you wish to, start an industrial disease claim arising out of exposure to asbestos on your behalf, if you believe that a working environment has played a role in your illness.

How can I claim for a disease caused by exposure to asbestos?

Asbestos related claims are complex by nature. Unlike some personal injury claims which occur due to an incident on a specific date, a successful asbestos illness claim requires detailed investigations and knowledge in order to not only identify the precise cause of the illness but also to ensure that a claim is advanced within the relevant time period. This often takes determination and patience, particularly the latter as it is important to carefully and diligently build the claim to maximise the prospects of success.

The aim of the investigation is to find what steps, if any an employer took to protect workers and others from exposure to asbestos, to establish if there was a failure (in accordance with the law at the time the person was exposed) and that the illness diagnosed was caused by exposure to asbestos and not something else.  To achieve those objectives specialist knowledge and skills are required to ensure that pertinent enquiries are made to establish the facts. Furthermore, it is vital to receive a diagnosis from a doctor with clarification as to the cause of the illness, as well as providing a diagnosis.

How much compensation will I get?

There is no set amount of compensation an individual receives. This is good news as the level of compensation to which someone may be entitled to, is determined by the facts of the case and particularly the nature of the harm, the period of suffering and the detailed effects upon a person’s life. The amount of compensation you receive will depend upon the evidence. Our asbestos illness solicitors will commit themselves to gathering the appropriate evidence to maximise the claim and to ensure that the sum claimed represents all those losses you may be entitled to.

Is there a time limit for making a compensation claim for exposure to asbestos?

The general time limit for bringing a claim is three years from the date of the accident or injury, or more pertinently in relation to an asbestos compensation claim, three years from when you knew that your illness was linked to work or some other cause. This is known as the date of knowledge and is particularly important in asbestos compensation claims as symptoms and diagnosis often only occur, some 20, 30 or 40 years after exposure to asbestos.

As these claims are complex, it is important to take advice as soon as possible following diagnosis where you believe the disease has been caused by exposure in a workplace environment. Time is often of the essence in an asbestos compensation claims, so do not delay.

 I cannot afford to pay legal fees. How can I afford to make a claim?

It is frequently the case that asbestos compensation claims are funded by what is colloquially known as a “no-win, no fee” agreement.  This means you do not have to worry about having to pay legal fees to bring a claim. If you do not win, you do not pay any legal fees to your solicitor.

Furthermore, you can protect yourself from having to pay the other side’s legal costs, if you lose, by taking out a policy of insurance, which costs nothing if you lose. Therefore, you can bring an asbestos compensation claim without having to worry about pay legal fees either to IBB or the other party if you lose.

How long will my asbestos compensation claim take?

Every case is different. The time to settle the case will be determined by a number of factors including whether or not legal responsibility, for exposure to asbestos, is admitted by those responsible for the exposure. 

The time a claim will take to settle will also depend on the type of condition and most often the stance adopted by your opponent. We hope, in the majority of cases, to conclude an asbestos compensation claim within about 12-18 months.

I am too unwell to travel. Will you visit me at home?

Yes. We do this in the vast majority of asbestos compensation claims and indeed, will visit as often as is necessary to progress the claim as quickly as possible. We will meet you during the day, in the evenings or at weekends, whatever time is most convenient. We will also keep you regularly informed of the progress of the claim.

Can we phone if we have any problems?

Yes. If your lawyer is not available, one of our assistants will take a message and we will call you back.

Will you keep in regular contact with me? How will this be done?

We will keep in regular contact, advising on the progress of the claim, having identified important milestones in the progress of your asbestos compensation claim. We will set out clearly what we have to do, to win the case. We will communicate with you by letter, email and telephone.

If the employer is no longer trading, can I still make a compensation claim?

Yes. The compensation will be paid by the insurer for the employer, at the time that the exposure to asbestos took place. Even if the in employer is no longer trading, we are very often able to trace their insurer.

I have not worked for the company which I think caused my asbestos condition for a number of years. Can I still claim?

It is very often the case that an asbestos related disease takes years to develop. In the event of a slow developing condition caused by exposure related to work, the time limit for bringing a claim for compensation is unlikely to start until you were provided with a diagnosis of your condition. 

I think my illness was caused by my partner or spouse working with asbestos. Can I still make a claim?

Yes. We have dealt with cases where the wife of a worker has been exposed to asbestos. This has arisen because their husband would bring asbestos fibres home, from work, on his work clothes. The wife would then inhale the fibres.

Is it still possible to bring a claim when someone has died?

If someone has died as a result of being exposed to asbestos then it is still possible to bring a claim, although as there are strict time limits about bringing such a claim, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. One of the reasons for this is that there is likely to be an inquest and having legal representation at the coroner’s inquest will make it possible to obtain important information that will assist in making an asbestos compensation claim.

Will I have to go to court?

Most unlikely. People are naturally anxious about having to go to court and we understand that the prospect of this can put some people off from making an asbestos compensation claim. However, it is very rare (1% of cases) for a claim of this type to go to trial. The vast majority of asbestos compensation claims settle by way of an amicable agreement with the insurer responsible for the employer who caused the asbestos exposure.

IBB Claims are the right choice for asbestos compensation claims

To start an asbestos compensation claim or to find out more about how you make a claim, please contact us today by calling 0333 123 9099.

Our team of experts in various aspects of personal injury compensation, including asbestos compensation claims. We have years of experience and are proud to help a wide variety of people in the community to make successful asbestos compensation claims.

We treat each client as an individual, taking the time to understand your unique situation and requirements, so we can offer tailored advice and guidance to help you get the best possible result. We will speak to you in plain English. We do not use jargon and avoid antiquated phrases. You are in control of the claims process and we help you make the important decisions.

When you come to us about making a claim, we will provide a free initial consultation to assess the strength of your claim. We were then give you a realistic idea as to how likely you are to make a successful claim and what compensation you may be entitled to.

Legal aid was taken away by the government many years ago and is now only available in very limited circumstances. However, we offer our clients a “no-win, no fee” agreement. This means you do not have to worry about paying our legal costs if you lose. Members of our team are members of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (“APIL”).  Malcolm Underhill, Partner, is a fellow of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and is an assessor for the Law Society Catastrophic injury scheme. These achievements reflect our strong expertise across all areas of personal injury law and our commitment to maintaining the highest possible standards for our clients. Malcolm Underhill has appeared on television and radio to speak about the consequences of being exposed to asbestos.

If you would like further information about making a compensation claim for injuries sustained as a result of exposure to asbestos, contact one of our specialist lawyers, by telephoning 0333 123 9099, or emailing us at, or completing the enquiry form.

  • Malcolm Underhill
      • 01895 207972
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  • Simon Pimlott
      • 01895 207236
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  • Jacqueline Almond
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  • Seema Bagha
      • 01895 207240
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  • Justin Govier
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  • Caroline Dunne
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  • Charlene Bristow
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Meet the team