Asbestos Claims after Death

Asbestos-related diseases are not always easily diagnosed. Symptoms can sometimes take between 20 and 40 years to appear, although it can be as short as 10 years and as long as 60 years or more, and often the patient has long since forgotten about their asbestos exposure many years earlier. Due to the speed at which asbestos-related conditions can progress, a diagnosis may not become available until the sufferer has died and a post-mortem has been done. In this blog, we’ll walk you through some of the questions frequently asked by families about claiming compensation, after their relative has died, for asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural thickening and asbestos-induced lung cancer.

Can a claim for compensation be made for an asbestos-related disease after death?

If a member of your family has passed way due to an asbestos-related disease, then it is possible that a claim may still be brought on behalf of their estate and any dependants that are left behind.

Is there a time limit for claiming compensation for asbestos-related diseases?

Yes, there are two relevant time limits. A living asbestos victim has three years within which to bring a claim for compensation and the time limit usually runs from the date that they knew, or should have known, that they had been harmed by their exposure to asbestos. This can often be the date when they were first diagnosed. Provided that the asbestos victim was still within that three year time limit when they died, then there is a further three years from the date of the death within which any claim on behalf of their estate or dependants must be brought. In some extenuating circumstances, the court may grant permission for a claim to be pursued outside the normal three years. However, this is very rare.

Who can make an asbestos compensation claim after death?

The claim is brought by the executors or administrators of the deceased’s estate. The executors are the people named in the will, if there is one. If there is no will, the law sets out those people who can be the administrators of the estate, usually the deceased person’s next of kin, for example their spouse (or civil partner) or child.

What is needed to bring a claim for asbestos-related disease after death?

We will need to prove with medical evidence that the deceased was suffering from an asbestos-related disease, such as one of those set out below:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Pleural thickening
  • Asbestosis
  • Asbestos-related lung cancer

We will also need to show that the disease was caused as a result of someone negligently exposing the deceased individual to asbestos. Asbestos exposure often occurred at work, in which case we will need to prove that the employer or former employer was negligent when they exposed the deceased person to asbestos and that it was this exposure that caused the disease to develop. To do this, we will consider the type of industry in which the deceased worked and we may obtain expert evidence about the likely asbestos exposure there. We may also seek evidence from the deceased’s family, previous colleagues, contractors and clients, where possible. Even if the employer or former employer has now gone out of business, we can still pursue the claim provided we can locate the insurer of the employer at the time.

Who receives the compensation when you claim for an asbestos-related illness after death?

When you bring a claim after a person has died or the person passes away prior to the case being finalised, the compensation that is paid may be in two parts.

The first part of the compensation will represent the asbestos victim’s pain and suffering and any losses or expenses that they incurred as a result of their illness. This compensation will be added to the deceased’s estate and will be distributed according to the deceased’s will, if there is one. If there is no will, there are rules that set out where the deceased’s money and property should go. These are called the rules of intestacy and only married or civil partners and some other close relatives may inherit under these rules.

There may also be a second element to the compensation where the asbestos-related disease caused the death and the victim left behind dependants. The second part of the compensation will represent the loss suffered by those dependants and will be paid to them.

Bringing a claim for compensation on behalf of someone who has died can make the process more complicated, which is why it’s vital that you have an expert asbestos solicitor on your side. Contact Dedicated Asbestos Solicitors today!