Asbestos is not a modern discovery. There is mention of a fire proof fibre as far back as the 5th Century BC and possible references to illnesses of the lung from about the same time. But it is fair to say that it was in the 20th Century that its use on an industrial basis really took off. Apparently a snow scene in the Wizard of Oz used white asbestos!
The real tragedy is that it is only now that we are seeing the real cost. Asbestos is known to cause serious lung disease including lung cancer and mesothelioma. The latter is almost always terminal.
There is normally a gap of 30 – 40 years between the exposure to asbestos and the appearance of symptoms of mesothelioma. This presents a logistical nightmare for victims and their advisers. And it was the subject of a major decision of the Supreme Court earlier this week.
This has become known as the ‘trigger litigation’. In essence the insurers for companies who were guilty of negligent exposure of their workers to asbestos were seeking to avoid having to pay compensation. Their argument was that the liability to pay was not theirs because the ‘trigger’ for the insurance liability was not the time of exposure but the start of symptoms which is usually many years later. This was a potential cause of massive injustice. By the time a victim suffers symptoms say 40 years after exposure many companies have long since disappeared. If there was no insurer around to deal with it then there was no compensation.
On 28th March the Supreme Court decided that the ‘trigger’ is the time of inhalation of the asbestos and not the later date.
This is a massive relief to thousands of sufferers. It is tragic that many died before being able to benefit from this decision but at least their families will now be able to claim. This is a significant decision from the Supreme Court who, not for the first time, have decided in favour of those blighted by the asbestos scandal.
If you or a family member have been affected by asbestos EAD Solicitors have a specialist team of lawyers who have pursued successful claims for victims and who will fight for maximum compensation.