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Massive blow for asbestos victims


Leading industrial disease lawyer, Pauline Chandler from Manchester law firm Pannone LLP says asbestos disease victims in the North West have been dealt a massive blow in the House of Lords as the Law Lords have ruled that Pleural Plaques (scarring of the lung tissue caused by exposure to asbestos), are not an injury for which compensation can be paid in a court of Law. This decision dashes the hopes of thousands of people who suffer from this condition nationwide, hundreds of whom live in the North West, an area whose industries used asbestos in substantial amounts in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s particularly.

Pleural Plaque scarring rarely causes breathing problems or pain, but is evidence of significant exposure to asbestos dust. It is by far the most common condition caused by asbestos. Thousands of people are told each year they have developed plaques which can show up between 10 and 20 years after exposure.

Increased risk
People with pleural plaques have an increased risk of developing other sometimes fatal diseases and often develop anxiety because they know they have an increased chance of developing much more serious conditions.

Asbestos is the biggest occupational killer of men in Europe and these other conditions do cause breathing problems for which compensation is still payable for them.

Pleural plaques were compensated by the courts between the early 1980’s and 2006. Until 2005, the typical award was around £15000. In January 2006 the Court of Appeal ruled that pleural plaques were not compensateable. The House of Lords decision confirms this.

Denied the right to claim
Said Pauline Chandler, from Pannone, “Thousands of people who had brought claims for pleural plaques are now left without the right they previously had to receive compensation from their employers. Anyone who develops this condition in future will have no right to claim, no matter how careless the employers were for their safety. Only if they develop cancer, asbestosis or pleural thickening will they be able to make a claim.”

The insurance industry believes they will save around £1.4 billion as a result of this decision.



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