Determining whether a person can lodge a claim for an asbestos-related disease is not always straight forward. There are many legal hurdles that need to be overcome, but it is the technical medical evidence that makes asbestos compensation claims particularly difficult.
Exposure to asbestos
There is no doubt that exposure to asbestos can lead to asbestos diseases. However, simply acquiring an asbestos disease does not mean an individual is automatically entitled to compensation. This is where confusion often arises. To have a viable claim for compensation, an individual must have an asbestos-related disease that causes, or contributes to, an impairment such as respiratory impairments, chest pains or psychological damage.
An important aspect of determining whether a person is entitled to compensation is to establish the level of impairment, if any, resulting from the disease. To make a diagnosis and determine any impairment, a lung specialist will conduct a medical investigation. This can, include:
- Chest x-rays;
- Chest CT scans;
- Lung function tests;
- Lung biopsies; and
- Lung specialist consultations.
In many cases, the assessment of impairment is complicated by other conditions such as cardiac diseases, smoking diseases, or obesity. Asbestos disease need not be the sole cause of impairment, but it must contribute in a meaningful way for a viable claim. Only when objective medical evidence is obtained confirming a diagnosis and setting out the extent of any impairment will there be good prospects for recovering compensation.
Development of impairment
Asbestos diseases, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis, are generally a progressive illnesses. While a person with an asbestos disease may have no or minimal impairment initially, their condition may develop or worsen in the future. This may give rise to a claim for compensation, and it is critical that sufferers of asbestos disease continue to monitor their illness to protect their ability to make a claim.
It is common to see two cases that are similar on the surface result in vastly different outcomes. This often leads to the inevitable question 'why did that person get more compensation?' Differences in age, medical history, level of impairment and prognosis all have a significant effect on the outcome of a case and how much compensation is awarded.
The road to compensation for asbestos claims is long and fraught with both legal and medical hurdles. If you believe you have a claim for an asbestos-related disease, it is important to seek legal advice from an asbestos claims expert as soon as possible to ensure you can get the help you need.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: April 16, 2019.