Asbestos exposure can be very hard to prove given the length of time it can take for the substance to have its pernicious effect on health. However, as one case showed, obtaining expert legal advice can overcome the difficulties that stand in the way of victims achieving a just compensation settlement.
The case concerned a GP who died from mesothelioma – an incurable cancer of the lining of the lungs almost always associated with asbestos – when he was aged just 51. Before he died, he claimed that he had been exposed to the substance whilst using an underpass that served as a short cut linking the university where he was a student in the 1980s with a nearby hospital.
He commenced a personal injury claim against the university and the Department of Health, and his executors pursued the case on behalf of his family. Evidence as to the presence of asbestos in the underpass at the relevant time was contradictory and liability was disputed. However, a £500,000 settlement of his claim was negotiated, on the basis of 50 per cent liability.
Information on asbestos health and safety can be found on the Health and Safety Executive's website.