Asbestos Action Winter 2015 Newsletter

Asbestos in roof sheet

Asbestos Action is an organisation helping people across Scotland affected by asbestos-related illness, their families and carers. At Digby Brown, we have supported and worked alongside Asbestos Action for a number of years. Fraser Simpson leads our Industrial Disease Claims Department at Digby Brown, which represents people across Scotland suffering from asbestos-related illnesses.

This type of illness is sometimes thought of as a condition of the past, affecting those who worked in traditional and heavy industries. This is not the case – asbestos related conditions continue to affect people working in a range of environments today, and it is estimated that around 2,500 people die through asbestos exposure in the UK every year.

Asbestos Action has published their Winter 2015 newsletter containing news relevant to those affected by asbestos-related illnesses and medical professionals working in the field as well as full information on how to contact or support the charity. 

Digby Brown’s Fraser Simpson has written an article for the newsletter about a new benchmark for the valuation of compensation damages for asbestos related pleural plaques cases in Scotland. This was achieved through a landmark case - William Wales v The Advocate General for Scotland, 13 August 2015.

“Asbestos-related pleural plaques are a personal injury which is not negligible”.

Section 1(1) Damages (Asbestos- Related Conditions) (Scotland) Act 2009.

At Digby Brown, we endorse wholeheartedly the approach of AAT, which determines that every client is entitled to specialist, individual consideration and support. Not all victims of asbestos exposure are the same, and it follows that not all legal claims, even for the same condition, should be processed or valued in the same way. Unfortunately, this approach is not shared by some other firms who continue to settle pleural plaques claims based on fixed tables contained within voluntary agreements, entered into with insurers and their representatives.

We will always, where possible, obtain medical evidence to measure the specific impact of any diagnosis of an asbestos related condition, and the specific risk faced by each individual of developing a more serious condition at a future date. We then use that information to fight for damages that properly reflect the injury as well as the stress and anxiety which a diagnosis brings, and the future risk.

Using this approach, we achieved a landmark decision for a pleural plaques suffer, William Wales, who was awarded provisional damages of £8,500, a sum that is more than double the level of damages most insurers are prepared to offer in terms of previous voluntary agreements.

This is the first assessment by a court in Scotland of the value of pleural plaques damages for a number of years. A decision is awaited in a further Digby Brown case involving assessment of “full and final” damages for pleural plaques. These cases will set a new benchmark against which future claims will require to be measured, and justify the approach we share with AAT to properly investigate and assess each individual case to ensure maximum damages are recovered.

Download a copy of the Asbestos Action Winter 2015 newsletter.