Secondary-victims of asbestos exposure deserve justice

Older man looking thoughtful

Digby Brown know from daily first-hand experience that asbestos-related diseases are not confined to our industrial past but affecting people across Scotland today.

We represent victims of industrial diseases, working alongside Asbestos Action, a Scottish charity who provides a range of support and advice to individuals, families and carers affected by an asbestos related condition.

“Secondary victims” of asbestos exposure

One of the areas we are working with Asbestos Action to highlight is the plight of “secondary victims” of asbestos exposure who can be left with no access to justice or compensation. 

Individuals suffering from serious, in some cases terminal, illnesses as a result of exposure to asbestos can be left unable to claim compensation.

Asbestos sufferer unable to make a claim for compensation

One individual Asbestos Action has supported developed mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, as a result of living with her uncle in the late 1960s and helping wash his work clothes which were covered in asbestos dust and fibres from his work with a Dundee-based boiler covering company.

Her uncle died from asbestosis in 1970 and the company responsible for her uncle’s exposure to asbestos has been out of business since the mid 1970s.

Despite extensive investigations, specialist solicitors have not been able to trace the company’s historic insurers insurers, meaning there is no organisation responsible for paying compensation to her.

Access to justice and compensation for all asbestos victims

This type of “secondary” exposure does not fall under the UK Government’s Diffuse Mesothelioma payment scheme, which exists to compensate Mesothelioma victims when organisations responsible cannot be traced. 

This lack of legal recourse for some victims of asbestos – related conditions is a basic injustice which must be addressed, for example through extending the scope of the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment scheme to cover secondary victims who are unable to pursue compensation from a company or insurer.

Thousands of individuals and families have been affected by exposure to asbestos.

Digby Brown believe that individuals who have developed conditions through the negligence of employers should be able to seek legal recourse and compensation which properly reflects the whole effect their illness has had on them. 

Taking responsibility for lives blighted by asbestos related conditions

Extending the scheme to Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment scheme would mean finally that employers and the insurance industry would be taking full responsibility for those people whose lives have been permanently blighted by them or someone in their family simply going to work.