Mesothelioma Awareness Day (Meso Awareness Day) takes place today, September 26 and aims to bring more attention and funding to this devastating cancer.
Mesothelioma is incurable and is inevitably fatal – death usually occurs within 12-18 months of diagnosis. It is caused by exposure to asbestos. It can take around 10-20 years before symptoms become ‘clinically manifest’ but it can be as long as 50 years before they become apparent. Once diagnosed, it is usually too late for anything other than any palliative treatment.
The symptoms of mesothelioma can include:
- Breathlessness or difficulty in breathing
- Pain in the chest
- Chest feels heavy and dull or aching (especially when you breathe)
- Weight loss
- Fever and sweating (especially at night)
- Hoarseness (caused by pressure on the nerve that supplies the voice box)
- Persistent cough that doesn’t go away
Sharine Burgess, Shoosmiths’ Serious Injury (SI) personal injury specialist and joint head of Shoosmiths’ Northampton office, was recently instructed by the widow of a former welder who sadly passed away from mesothelioma, after being exposed to asbestos at work over 40 years ago.
He worked as a welder from 1975 to 2004 at the Finedon Industrial Estate in Wellingborough – he worked for Higgs & Hill until the company was taken over in the 1990’s and he continued to work there. His work involved working on large civil engineering projects welding in a large industrial workshop.
Sharine was instructed by the family ahead of the inquest into the death held in September 2021 and to pursue a civil claim for compensation. She faced the challenge of there being no first-hand evidence from the deceased because he had died –and therefore no witness statement was available.
Other challenges were that the medical records referred to his work as a welder but did not confirm he had worked with asbestos and that the exposure had taken place over 40 years ago. The defendant company were no longer trading and many of the deceased’s former colleagues had passed away.
Shoosmiths SI thoroughly investigated the case and were able to build a picture of the deceased’s working conditions including his exposure to asbestos from the 1970’s based on evidence from his family and a former colleague who was traced.
His three sons also shared valuable information from their visits to their father at work when they were children and in later years.
The deceased had been a very fit man until his diagnosis and but for the mesothelioma would have enjoyed a normal life expectancy. Settlement of the claim not only gave the widow some financial security but a sense that justice had been served and helped the family move forward.
Shoosmiths’ SI’s Sharine Burgess, said: “We were pleased to have been able to assist the family in this very sad case. Shoosmiths’ SI has a very long history of dealing with cases of mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos.
“This was a very challenging case in that there was no evidence from the deceased about his exposure to asbestos and the company in question was no longer trading. Thorough investigation was required to find the right evidence to support the claim.”
The deceased’s widow commented:
“I have had brilliant service from Sharine. She always made sure I understood everything, and she couldn’t have done more. I am delighted with the service I received”
This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2023