Q: My husband worked as an electrician between 1969 and 1999. He was employed by various companies in large scale refurbishment projects. He has recently been diagnosed with asbestos related cancer, from inhalation of asbestos during his employment. I am caring for him at home, but his health is declining.
My husband feels badly let down and wants to bring a claim for compensation. The problem is, we are not absolutely sure of all the places he was exposed to asbestos, and some of the companies which he worked for no longer exist. Can he still make a claim?
A: Your husband can still make a claim, despite these potential hurdles. His employers owed him a duty of care, including an obligation not to expose him to the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease through negligence. By the mid-1960s, his employers can be said to have known, (or ought to have known,) that exposure to asbestos carried the risk of development of disease. So there is no reasonable excuse.
Often, the biggest challenge is proving, firstly, that your husband was exposed to asbestos, and secondly, by whom. Often there is a very long time between exposure to asbestos and the development of symptoms (up to 40 years). During this time, memories fade and records may be lost. The starting point is to get a detailed statement from your husband, (and statements from family and former colleagues). A solicitor handling your claim would also apply to his former employers for relevant records.
It does not matter if your husband cannot identify each negligent employer, or if some of the companies no longer exist. The principle is that a defendant who is liable for any of the damage, is liable for all of the damage. You should consult a local solicitor as soon as possible.
This question has been answered by Claire Parfitt, a Solicitor with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry or for an appointment visit www.ghplegal.com or contact one of our offices: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194