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Asbestos Injury Lawyer


The side-effects of Asbestos

The damaging impact of decades of asbestos use in buildings throughout Australia is still being felt. Every year, hundreds of Australians die from mesothelioma, the rare form of cancer strongly linked to asbestos exposure. Many more suffer from asbestosis, a disease that restricts the lung’s ability to expand and contract. Both diseases often won’t appear until decades after exposure. This means that even though asbestos has largely been out of use since the 1980s, and was banned outright in Australia in 2003, people will continue to get sick for years to come.

If you or a loved one has become ill as a result of asbestos exposure, you deserve financial compensation for the grave injury that has been committed against you. The dust disease specialist lawyers at Gerard Malouf & Partners can help you achieve a favourable outcome. Our barristers and solicitors work on a “no win, no fee” basis, and treat each of our cases with the personalised attention they all deserve.

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How do I know if I have an asbestos compensation claim?

A strong asbestos compensation claim can be made if you are suffering from an illness, such as mesothelioma or asbestosis, where you can clearly prove that asbestos exposure was a cause of illness. Causation is the sticking point that complicates many asbestos injury cases. Many cases have been contested over the amount of evidence necessary to establish causation, and whether the plaintiff must prove that an illness was simply caused by asbestos, or whether the illness must be traced to certain instances of exposure, such as from a workplace or home.

Proving that a disease not exclusively caused by asbestos exposure, such as lung cancer, did develop because of asbestos can also be difficult. Ultimately, the specifics of what is needed for causation vary from state to state. Guidance from an experienced solicitor can help you understand whether your case has potential merit.

In addition to establishing causation, a successful asbestos compensation claim may have to demonstrate that your exposure to asbestos is covered by the “law of foreseeability.” This concept means that a person or organisation is only liable for damages if they were aware that an activity creates a “reasonably foreseeable risk of injury.” This concept is typically used to shield individual homeowners — who may not be aware they are exposing their friends and family to potential illness — from litigation, rather than workplaces. In short, a person must have knowledge of the asbestos and not have taken steps to help mitigate the risk to others if they are to be found liable for exposing someone else to the substance.

It’s also important to note that you can file a compensation claim on behalf of a loved one who has passed away from an asbestos-related disease, even if you yourself are not ill. Australia’s courts recognise the severe human toll the prevalence of asbestos exposure has had on people, and a lump-sum death benefit may be available as a result of your loss. Unlike claims where you are filing for yourself, time limits often exist in these cases, with the limit beginning from the death of the loved one

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What is the process for making an asbestos compensation claim?

There are several ways in which you can get compensation for asbestos related illness. An asbestos compensation claim may be made as a part of a workers compensation or workplace negligence case. Many of the victims diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestosis were exposed while working, meaning their employers may be responsible for damages. Asbestos was mined in many parts of Australia for decades: The largest asbestos manufacturer in the country, James Hardie Industries, established plants in News South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia. Cases against James Hardie Industries are especially clear-cut because the executives of the company were aware of the product’s dangers before they became public knowledge. As a result, James Hardie has become the most common defendant in asbestos injury cases over the years.

In addition to miners and plant workers, people who worked with asbestos products on the job, such as construction workers, plumbers and electricians, are at an elevated risk of illness. Many of the victims in these cases worked in these fields before the dangers of asbestos were fully known. However, if you work in a workplace where asbestos is still present, such as a construction job that includes removing asbestos, your employers are subject to nationwide regulations governing how they handle asbestos and the safety training they must give their employees. If your employer has fallen short, you may also have a workplace negligence case.

If you became ill as a result of asbestos exposure in a private residence, the path to compensation is less clear. Typically, homeowners are protected from litigation by the law of foreseeability. However, you may still be able to file a claim against the manufacturer of the relevant asbestos product. Importantly, though it can be difficult to determine fault in these cases, asbestos injury claims can not be rejected outright because they occurred in a non-occupational setting, due to a 2006 expansion of the Wrongs Act.

Who pays out an asbestos compensation claim?

The damages for your asbestos compensation claim will most likely be paid by your employer (if you were exposed to asbestos because of unsafe conditions at work) or the manufacturer of the asbestos product from which you became ill. Workers and other individuals who can trace their illness to James Hardie products, for example, are eligible for payout from the company’s Medical Research and Compensation Foundation. While the foundation was initially established with $293 million, experts believe that the company will need to disburse $1.87 billion over the next few decades. While the fund is still in place, the company has relocated from Australia to the Netherlands, which in recent years has made it challenging for victims to receive funding and restricted payouts. If you or a loved one has been kept from compensation they deserve, legal representation can help you make your case effectively in court.

In cases against an employer rather than the manufacturer, a plaintiff must be able to show that negligence or misconduct lead to exposure. Australia has strict workplace safety rules and a permitting system in effect for handling asbestos, and companies that don’t comply can face both civil and criminal charges.

A record of success

Wherever your asbestos-related illness stemmed from, be it a dangerous workplace, at home or through second-hand exposure, Gerard Malouf & Partners will be your advocate. Our lawyers are experts in both dust disease cases including asbestosis and mesothelioma. In one recent workplace injury case, from Nov. 2020, we helped a factory manager achieve a $300,000 compensation payout for a workplace injury caused by unsafe employer practises. The man had been badly burned after a spark from a factory furnace went down his glove and caused him to drop a pot of molten metal. The accident left our client with severe burns on his left leg, ankle and foot.

While our client was able to receive a weekly workers compensation claim and a lump sum for whole person impairment, we also believed he was entitled to work injury damages and opened a case against the man’s employer. Throughout the process we were able to demonstrate how unsafe practices on the part of the business in question had contributed to the injury, eventually netting our client a satisfactory settlement in mediation. The settlement amount gave the man the closure he needed to move on with his life, despite his serious injuries. Whether you’re seeking justice for serious burns or disease caused by asbestos, our solicitors recognise the pain you’ve been through and believe you deserve reprieve for it.

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“Just want to say thank you for the help and confidence to speak out about my situation, it changed my life forever and now I can look forward to getting surgery to repair my stomach and return to work shortly. Thank you all again for your hard work and determination to get the best outcome for me. I’m glad I can close this chapter and look forward to fixing myself. "

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Our Team

Meet the Asbestos Compensation team

Meet some of the diverse and dynamic compensation lawyers that support our clients with their dust disease claims.
Katie Ferrier
Ray Abbas

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Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of our compensation experts, or make an enquiry online now.

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