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Are you entitled to asbestos disease compensation? Here’s what you need to know

Asbestos exposure, or dust disease, has become a household name to avoid. While you may have heard the word before, few know exactly what it is and how it’s used. 


Asbestos is a natural fibrous material that is resistant to electricity, chemicals and heat. These properties made it seem ideal for use as a building material and in other applications. It was typically found in many building sites and cars, as well as used to create a variety of products, ranging from drains and roofs to brakes and gaskets.


However, the danger of asbestos is breathing in the chemicals it releases over long periods. A total ban on the use of asbestos was completed on 31 December 2003, meaning it is illegal to use it or import it from another country. Further, workers cannot handle asbestos until they have been trained to do so and hold a licence proving their qualifications. 


In this blog, we will go over the health risks of asbestos and mesothelioma exposure, qualifying for compensation if you’re exposed and the claim process associated with it. 


The health risks of asbestos exposure


Asbestos disease is a chronic lung disease that can develop over time through long periods of exposure. Not everyone who is exposed to asbestos will develop health issues. In order to contract the disease, there needs to be a lot of asbestos in the air and exposed for long periods of time. If the person also uses tobacco or already has lung conditions, this can amplify the risk.


Asbestos fibres tear the lung tissues and cause shortness of breath. The severity of the disease isn’t the same for everyone and the symptoms usually don’t appear until long after the person has been exposed — 20 to 30 years after subjection, according to Safe Work Australia. 


There are three types of asbestos-related diseases, known as mesothelioma, asbestosis and pleural disease:


  • Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that lines the lungs, stomach, heart and other organs. It forms through exposure of asbestos fibres. Symptoms include shortness of breath and chest pain. The life expectancy of the patient is only a few months depending on what stage the cancer is in. 
  • Asbestosis occurs when there is scarring in the lungs from the asbestos fibres, which prevents oxygen and carbon dioxide from passing in and out of the lung easily. This disease is most prevalent in people who have had long and high periods of exposure.
  • Pleural disease is a non-cancerous lung condition that changes the membrane around the lungs and chest cavity. The membrane becomes thicker in these or isolated areas around the chest and, resulting in less efficient lung function. 

Because of these diseases, there is a heightened risk for developing lung cancer and mesothelioma. Effects may appear in several other areas of the body, including:


  • Larynx
  • Ovary
  • Pharynx
  • Stomach
  • Colorectum
  If you think you’ve been exposed to asbestos, it’s important to meet with your doctor or medical provider. They can check you out and determine if more tests are necessary.  Unfortunately, the fibres cannot be removed from your lungs, so if you have been exposed to asbestos, you should take the necessary precautions to prevent further complications. Preventative care could include things like removing yourself from an exposed area, getting vaccinations and maintaining regular medical exams. How to know if you qualify for compensation After you have been diagnosed with an asbestos disease or any other negative result of exposure to asbestos, you typically have 6 to 12 months to make a claim. If you are in the higher risk stages of mesothelioma, however, you will only have a short few months to begin the process. To make a claim, you need to qualify for asbestos compensation. Working with a lawyer could be your best option because they’ll know which steps to take, the requirements for qualifying and can handle your case for you. They will work quickly with you keeping in mind the time sensitivity of the disease. Even if you were or are a tobacco smoker or you were exposed overseas, your lawyer can help you file an asbestos compensation claim. Here are three steps to help you prepare for filing a claim. 

Step 1: Proof of disease

As soon as you go to the doctor, you should contact a lawyer to get your claim started. You should have medical records indicating signs of exposure. The reports need to be signed by a board-certified physician and other records such as CAT scans, MRIs and X-rays should be included in your file as well. All of these records need to follow your story from symptoms to diagnosis. 

Step 2: Asbestos exposure proof

You and your lawyer will explore the proof that the manufacturer’s use of asbestos and your exposure to it are linked — making the manufacturing company at fault. While this may be difficult to do because of the late onset of symptoms, a lawyer will have the knowledge to help you trace back to the time of exposure. 


This claim can be civil or statutory. A civil claim will occur if the company exposing you to asbestos was your employer, while a statutory claim could result from other avenues of exposure, such as a home demolition nearby where you live.  


Step 3: Statute of limitation

As mentioned before, the 6-12 month period following your initial diagnosis is when you need to file a lawsuit. However, depending on how far along you are after diagnosis, you will need to work quickly. All states and territories require that you begin the process within your lifetime to protect your or your family’s entitlement to compensation.  While it may be ideal to file the claim before the claimant dies, there are circumstances where the claimant may have died of lung cancer or an asbestos-related disease. In these cases, a civil or statutory claim may become a wrongful death claim. In this case, the claimant’s estate can continue with the claim and potentially receive compensation. The asbestos disease compensation claims process Now that you’re prepared to file, let’s go over what to expect throughout the claims process. It can be a complicated and arduous proceeding, which is why it’s important to rely on the experience and skills of an injury lawyer. Gerard Malouf & Partners have the knowledge and skills needed to assist you with your claim and can help you get the compensation you deserve. We offer a no-obligation initial consultation with our lawyers, who will talk with you about your symptoms, speak to your doctors and, after taking you on as a client, start working on your case right away.  We know that no asbestos victim or related disease claimant is the same, so we work hard on each case keeping in mind that it’s a time-sensitive matter. Knowing that your health may be declining and you are struggling with the disease every day, it’s great peace of mind working with an asbestos lawyer that is there every step of the way.  The claims process Once we begin researching your claim and contacting the necessary entities, you will need to provide input. Depending on whether or not the organisation responsible is still in business will determine how the claim will be handled. Therefore, we will need your medical history, employment records and any other information necessary to make your case as strong as possible.  It’s common for the responsible party to deny liability, which will then necessitate more research on their part to support their claim. Most of these cases will not go to trial and can be settled quickly. How much can you be compensated? How much you will be compensated depends on a variety of factors. If you are at the end stages of an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma, you could earn a large award based on income, super contributions and medical bills.  If the patient happens to die before they can lodge the claim, the family may not win any compensation benefits. If there is even a hint of dust disease, it’s important to act immediately.

If you or a loved one may have been exposed to asbestos, you can contact us for no-obligation legal advice about your claim. Understanding the process ahead of time can help you make the best decision.

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Gerard Malouf & Partners have provided friendly, experienced legal advice to communities across Australia for over 35 years. Our Personal Injury Lawyers have taken on ten’s of thousands of cases and we are proud to have won billions of dollars for our clients.
Meet the diverse and dynamic team of compensation lawyers and supporting staff that have made this all happen below. Our multi-lingual team can discuss your claims in Arabic, Assyrian, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, Serbian, Croatian, Armenian, Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi or Malayalam.
Meet the diverse and dynamic team of compensation lawyers and supporting staff that have made this all happen below. Our multi-lingual team can discuss your claims in Arabic, Assyrian, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, Serbian, Croatian, Armenian, Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi or Malayalam.

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