Electrician wins compensation for 'fractional' asbestos exposure

By Gillian Crotty

An 85 year-old retried electrician who has been diagnosed with asbestosis has won his compensation claim in respect of exposure to asbestos at Exeter University more than 20 years ago.

Albert Carder worked in the boiler rooms at the University between 1980 and 1994, though he suffered much more exposure to asbestos earlier in his career as an apprentice electrician in the 1950s. His original employers did not have insurance and he stood little chance of receiving compensation from them. He instead brought an asbestos related compensation claim against the University, even though the exposure there only represented a 'small fraction' of his overall exposure to asbestos. The University accepted it's breach in respect of Mr Carder but its solicitors argued that the dosage was so small as to have made "no discernible difference to his condition".

Mr Carder first developed symptoms of asbestosis in 1998 and his condition has worsened considerably since. He has been essentially housebound as a result of his illness and uses oxygen regularly as a result of his chronic respiratory problems. It is very possible that his condition will deteriorate further.

The judge awarded Mr Carder £1,552 because of the fractional exposure suffered at the University, and said the amount would have been £70,000 if the University had been entirely responsible for his condition. The importance of the decision, however, is that Mr Carder can now return to the court for further compensation in the event that his illness becomes much more serious.

The symptoms of asbestos related illnesses can take many years to present themselves, which can make compensation claims complicated, especially if exposure occurred at various places of employment. Some of those previous employers may no longer be around, or may not have had insurance, as in this case, and so someone exposed to asbestos may have to settle for a compensation claim against an employer where the exposure was fractional.

If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos related illness or condition such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, pleural thickening or asbestosis, contact one of the asbestos claim specialists at Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast for advice on your compensation options by calling 0800 840 9289.