Pleural Plaques: Right to Compensation and Protecting Future Asbestos-Related Claims

Older man looking thoughtful

If an individual has been diagnosed with pleural plaques in the last 3 years and were exposed to asbestos in Scotland, they may be entitled to claim compensation from their former employers or their insurers.

After a decision of the House of Lords in October 2007, people in the UK could no longer claim compensation for pleural plaques. However, in 2009, the Scottish Parliament reinstated the rights of people exposed to asbestos in Scotland to claim compensation. Major insurance companies sought to challenge the legislation of the Scottish Parliament which was finally rejected by the Supreme Court in October 2011. Since this date, many pleural plaques claims have been brought and settled successfully for several thousands of pounds. 

Pleural plaques are a form of scarring or calcified thickened areas on the membrane surrounding the lungs (pleura). They are generally symptomless and do not become malignant. However, pleural plaques indicate that a person has been exposed to asbestos in their lifetime. Pleural plaques tend to form at least 20 years after exposure to asbestos.

If an individual is diagnosed with pleural plaques, they at a higher risk than the rest of the general population of developing an asbestos-related condition such as asbestosis or mesothelioma. Therefore, as well as seeking compensation, you may want to ensure that you protect a potential future claim on behalf you or your family, should you develop another asbestos related condition. The risks of this are small, often less than 5%, but the awards in such cases can be much higher, depending on the circumstances.

To protect any potential future asbestos claims, it is imperative that a claim for pleural plaques is brought within 3 years of the date you became aware that you have an asbestos related condition. This is normally the date you are first diagnosed.

As the law stands at present, if a claim is not brought within 3 years, individuals will be time-barred from bringing a pleural plaques claim or any future asbestos-related claims, no matter how serious. There is only one 3 year period from the first asbestos-related diagnosis in which to act.

For example, if a person develops pleural plaques without bringing a claim, and in 5 years develops mesothelioma, they will be barred from bringing a claim in respect of either condition.  Therefore, it is always advisable to look into a pleural plaques claim at the earliest opportunity.

To protect clients’ future position, a pleural plaques claim must be brought and settled on a provisional damages basis. This means that you would receive compensation for pleural plaques but leave the door open to return for further compensation in the future.

If you have pleural plaques and you wish to claim compensation and/or protect your right to claim  should you develop a more serious condition, Digby Brown have dedicated solicitors who are specialists in Industrial Disease claims, who will be happy to help.  They have represented thousands of people with pleural plaques and other asbestos related conditions, helping them get the fair compensation they are entitled to.