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Asbestos Claims Guide: Making a Successful Claim

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fibre that was both mined and imported into Australia for decades. It was used in shipyards, construction and other industries, and hundreds of thousands of Australians were exposed to asbestos fibres even after companies knew that such exposure was highly dangerous and could ultimately lead to fatalities.

Exposure to asbestos has been linked to a variety of cancers and lung diseases that may not show up until 10-50 years after exposure, and often lead to death not very long after diagnosis. According to the New South Wales government, “It is estimated that 4,000 Australians die each year from asbestos-related diseases. That’s more than twice as many deaths as the national road toll.” 

What is asbestosis and what causes it?

If you are someone who has been affected by asbestos exposure, it’s important to understand what asbestosis is and how people get it. According to Health Direct, asbestosis is a chronic, incurable lung condition that is caused by asbestos dust and fibres. Here are some of the most common symptoms: 

  • Shortness of breath. 
  • Increased shortness of breath with physical activity. 
  • Coughing. 
  • Permanent lung damage. 
  • Inflammation and scarring of the lungs. 


The main reason that people get asbestosis is due to prolonged exposure to the asbestos fibres. The asbestos fibres float into the air and get stuck in the alveoli, which are small sacs that reside inside the lungs. The alveoli are where oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide in the blood. Because the sacs are sensitive, the fibres irritate the lung tissue, even to the point of scarring. When this happens the lungs as a whole become stiff, which, in turn, makes it difficult to breathe. 

Asbestosis is only one kind of asbestos-related disease, other common ailments include mesothelioma and pleural plaques.


Mesothelioma is a form of cancer affecting the tissue that lines the body cavities and is extremely deadly because it spreads very quickly after the first symptoms appear. According to The Australia Cancer Council, symptoms of mesothelioma include:  

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain.
  • Pain in the shoulder and upper arm.
  • Sensitive skin.
  • Loss of appetite and/or weight loss.
  • Loss of energy.
  • Persistent cough or a change in a person’s usual cough.
  • Excessive sweating, especially at night.


If you can prove that you developed mesothelioma as the result of negligence, there is a chance that you can file a mesothelioma claim. 

Pleural plaques

The other common illness associated with asbestos is called pleural plaques. This is a form of lung disease that is noncancerous but can also take a toll on the body. Plaques and calcification due to “patches of fibrous thickening on the pleural membrane” are usually the result of exposure to asbestos as reported by Asbestos & Mesothelioma Association of Australia. Common symptoms are usually chest pain and there is no known effective treatment.

How to know if you qualify to make a claim

Whether you have been affected by asbestos, or someone you know has, you may be wondering if you qualify to make a claim as a result of the exposure to asbestos. 

Because ailments like mesothelioma and asbestosis have only one well-known cause — asbestos exposure — and large companies have been held liable for exposing workers and homeowners to asbestos due to their failure to warn people of the risks, many individuals with asbestos-related diseases are qualified to make a claim for compensation. This helps victims pay medical costs and provide for their families. Please also note that family members of the deceased can file for wrongful death on behalf of their estate.

Here are some of the most common careers that are impacted by asbestos exposure: 

  • Transport workers. 
  • Miners and millers. 
  • Cement manufacturing workers. 
  • Builders and construction workers.
  • Plumbers. 
  • Insulators. 
  • Electricians. 
  • Mechanics. 


If an employee can prove their workplace is at fault for their illness, they should ask for help seeking workers compensation. If there is a chance that you have a dust or asbestos-related disease, the first step you should take is to confirm with a medical professional. One of the most important things you can do to prove qualification is to have medical evidence that proves that you are living with a chronic lung disease. This is essential to helping you get the compensation that you deserve. 

If you are trying to prove that you were put in a dangerous environment by your employer or another third party, you and your lawyers will have to provide proof that the lung disease was the result of negligence or failure in the duty of care. 

At this point, if you are feeling overwhelmed, you should know that your legal team will assist you in collecting the right information, documents and pieces of evidence that will help build your case.

The asbestos claims process

Making a claim may seem like a complex and difficult process, but it doesn’t have to be because the GMP Law legal team is here to assist you with your compensation claim.

How to file a claim

The statute of limitations for filing an asbestos compensation claim is typically 6 to 12 months from diagnosis. Nearly all claims for asbestosis and other dust diseases are settled in less than 18 months, and many take only 3-4 months.

Proving liability in the case of asbestos-related disease is predicated on the understanding that if you were exposed to asbestos, someone besides yourself is to blame. If that person, company or entity still exists, you can bring a common law claim against them. If there is no one to claim against, you can still file a statutory claim for asbestos compensation. 

Filing a civil or a statutory claim

Your legal team will help you determine what the best course of action is when it comes to filing your asbestos claim. A civil or common law claim can be filed as a personal injury claim or a workplace negligence claim. If you were exposed to asbestos and subsequently developed asbestosis in the course of your employment many years ago, you can file against your employer or a manufacturer of the products you used.

If your asbestosis wasn’t caused by exposure through your employment, your lawyer may advise that you file a statutory claim with one of the many payout schemes available across Australia. Some of these schemes are funded by companies against whom massive settlements were won when it was discovered they knew about the dangers of asbestos fibre exposure but failed to protect workers or warn the public.

Commonwealth claims are administered by Comcare. Each state or territory also has its own scheme to manage asbestos disease-related claims and payouts. In some cases, you may be able to file both a statutory and a common law claim.

Asbestos compensation payouts

Compensation amounts vary widely. If you are severely affected and in the end stages of a terminal dust disease caused by asbestos, you may be able to earn a large award. This could not only include the income and super contributions a family loses but also on pain and suffering inflicted because of the loss of an asbestos victim.

Because of the various factors at play, compensation can vary widely depending on how severe the asbestos related illness is and how great the negligence was. Because many government workers were negatively impacted by asbestos exposure, Comcare created the Asbestos-related Claims (Management of Commonwealth Liabilities) Act 2005 (ARC Act) to manage claims. According to the bill, the average payout for asbestos-related claims is around $300,000.

Why you should work with a lawyer

Asbestosis and mesothelioma can take a serious and damaging toll on the affected person. During this difficult time, dealing with complicated legal jargon is the last thing a person wants to deal with. This is why working with the knowledgeable team at GMP Law can be advantageous and take some of the stress and pressure away from pursuing compensation. Having a lawyer helps ensure there are no mistakes made when you file an asbestos-related claim. 

Your lawyer can help you calculate the personal damages as a result of your asbestos exposure and resulting health condition, as well as provide other valuable legal advice. We will carefully consider your medical bills and any other costs associated with your dust disease. Then, we’ll add the financial support you provide to your dependents, which will cease if you become too ill to work or pass away from your disease. This includes all lost income from wages and super contributions that cannot be made.

If you are applying for compensation through a common law claim based on personal injury or workers’ compensation, we can represent you in negotiations for a settlement or in court if needed. If you are filing for compensation through a government-run statutory scheme, we will help you to achieve your settlement.

At Gerard Malouf & Partners, we work on a no-win, no-fee basis for asbestos exposure victims, meaning that unless you win compensation for your asbestos injury, you don’t owe us any legal fees. Are you interested in learning more about filing an asbestos claims case for potential compensation? Read our complete guide to dust disease compensation claims and speak to our asbestos compensation lawyers today. 


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About Us
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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