There are many causes of lung cancer including inhalation of asbestos. Indeed, some estimates are that there are six lung cancers caused by asbestos inhalation for every case of mesothelioma.
In order for a lung cancer to be attributed to exposure to asbestos a person must either have asbestosis, or a substantial history of asbestos exposure must be identified. The level of exposure associated with personal home renovation, or occasional occupational exposure are not sufficient to cause lung cancer.
Asbestos induced lung cancer is more common in people who smoked. This increased risk is not just associated with smoking, but rather the combined effect of smoking and asbestos lead to a greater rick than the sum of the two individual risks.
The symptoms, treatment and prognosis for asbestos induced lung cancer is not different to other lung cancers.
The fact that you were a smokier does not prevent you from bring a claim. Defendants have previously argued that the amount of damage a person with an asbestos induced lung cancer who was a smoker should received should be reduced on the basis of their “contributory negligence” in choosing to smoke. The response to this is that smokers have an impaired capacity to chose because of the addictive nature of nicotine.
Courts in all states in Australia generally expedite all mesothelioma claims.
The claims can be completed very quickly, particularly when the plaintiff is very sick. In some cases, claims have been started and finished within a week.
When normal expedition applies, claims usually take between three and six months to complete after the claim is filed.
Provided the claim has been commenced in your lifetime, full damages are available.
Historically, a claim needed to be completed in a person’s lifetime to recover damages for pain and suffering which is usually the most significant part of a claim. However, the law has been changed over the last 15-30 years in all states so that as long as proceedings are filed in your lifetime, rights are preserved. Your estate can continue your claim and recover damages for pain and suffering and loss of expectation of life. The entitlement to some compensation, primarily future economic loss may be affected.
Exposure to asbestos can have occurred in a wide variety of settings – both at work and outside work. We are expert at working with a client to identify possible periods of exposure, and then locating witnesses and other evidence that can confirm and corroborate exposure.
In order to bring a claim, we need to identify exposure to asbestos. On many occasions we have been able to locate and prove exposure to asbestos that caused disease notwithstanding the client’s initial instructions being that they could not recall any exposure.
For more information see our article Working out where you were exposed to asbestos.
You can claim compensation.
From a legal perspective, the answer is that each exposure caused the disease. Expert evidence accepted by Courts in Australia is that each exposure that is not de minimis (A legal term meaning too small to be meaningful or taken into consideration) and which occurred in the latency period (at least 10 –20 years prior to exposure) is a cause of any mesothelioma which later develops.
The expert evidence accepted by the Court is the “single fibre theory,” the theory that there was one fibre that caused the disease, is wrong. Instead, the disease is caused by the cumulative effect of all exposures.
If you have been exposed in multiple places you can obtain full compensation by suing in respect of any of the places you were exposed. You cannot ‘double-dip’ and sue for a second place of exposure. Typically, “cross-claims” will occur if you have been exposed at multiple places, which operates to share the costs of compensation among the defendants.
Icare compensation and common law claims are provide different compensation.
Almost everyone who receives compensation from icare Dust Disease Care would be entitled to additional compensation by way of a common law claim. These claims do not impact or reduce the icare benefit and are generally worth significantly more than the icare benefit.
Most people with mesothelioma can make a claim at common law. A common law claim is a claim in court for lump sum compensation. A claim is commenced by filing a Statement of Claim in court.
All States have developed specialised processes to deal with mesothelioma claims. In New South Wales claims are filed in the Dust Diseases Tribunal, a specialist court which has special rules of evidence and procedure to expedite claims. In other States, claims are brought in special lists in the Supreme Court or District Court to ensure that the needs of people with mesothelioma are addressed.
Most claims are brought against a former employer, manufacturer of asbestos products or an occupier of a building. If the employer no longer exists a claim can be made against the employer’s workers’ compensation insurer.
In all States matters proceed to a pre-trial or court appointed settlement conference or a mediation to see if the matter can be resolved prior to the hearing.
Most claims settle at mediation or after mediation but before the trial. If a matter proceeds to hearing, then in most jurisdictions evidence in chief can be given by way of Affidavit. If you are not well enough to travel, then your evidence will be taken at your home or hospital.
The courts will do everything possible to finish a claim in your lifetime. However, if you die before your claim is finished then provided the claim was filed in court in your lifetime, the claim can be continued by your estate at full value.
If you were exposed to asbestos during the course of employment in New South Wales, then you can make a claim at common law as well as receive a pension and have your medical and other expenses paid by the Dust Diseases Authority.
Start the compensation process by arranging a free case assessment.
In the free initial case assessment we will obtain general information and provide preliminary advice on whether we believe you are likely to have a claim for compensation, the value of any claim and our costs in the event you were to instruct us.
The case assessment is usually via phone (we will call you at the arranged time) or by video conference (such as Zoom or Teams).
There is no cost associated with this case assessment, nor any obligation to instruct us in your matter.