Asbestos related compensation win highlights difficulties providing evidence

By Gillian Crotty

Asbestos related illnesses, such as the terminal cancer mesothelioma, are usually diagnosed many years, and even decades, after the actual exposure to asbestos dust, making compensation claims particularly difficult when it comes to providing satisfactory evidence.

That was the case in the industrial disease compensation claim brought by Alan Cook against his former employers. Mr Cook was diagnosed with mesothelioma in March 2015 and passed away 6 months later on 26th September at the age of 68. His widow, Jennifer, continued to pursue his claim against, and in the end had to reach out to his former colleagues to provide information about the safety measures in place and about their working conditions.

Alan had worked for Tioxide between 1965 and 1970, and his work with titanium pigment involved him using asbestos rope, which he and his employees would cut with knives and touch with their bare hands. His former colleagues responded to Mrs Cook's appeal and supported his account of how they were exposed to asbestos without adequate protection.

Insures for Tioxide fought the claim rigorously but eventually reached an undisclosed settlement when High Court proceedings were issued.

The case highlights a common hurdle faced by most people who pursue an asbestos related industrial illness compensation claim. The passage of time between exposure and diagnosis provides complications in determining who to sue, and in the production of satisfactory evidence about work conditions at the time. Evidence from former colleagues is regularly required to substantiate a claim that there was exposure to asbestos and that adequate protection was not provided.

If the sufferer of the illness changed job roles within a company, or changed jobs on a fairly regular basis there is an added complication when attempting to identify when exposure took place. Some sufferers will have no idea of when they were exposed to asbestos, as is the case with Ann Bell who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January this year. She has instructed medical negligence solicitors to assist her investigation of former homes, schools and places of employment in an attempt to ascertain where she was exposed to asbestos dust.

If you require legal advice in respect of making an asbestos related industrial illness claim, contact one of the expert asbestos claims solicitors at Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast or Bangor by clicking here.