Asbestosis is a terrible disease that blights thousands of lives and is, perhaps, made all the worse by the fact that it can take decades to develop. In a High Court case on point, an 81-year-old retired carpenter won the right to compensation more than 40 years after he was exposed to asbestos dust at work.
The pensioner said that while employed by a building firm between 1979 and 1984, he was exposed to large amounts of asbestos dust that was impossible to avoid. He described blowing away dust so that he could see where to cut next when using a handsaw to cut asbestos sheeting. In 2016, he developed a persistent cough and asbestosis was diagnosed.
In upholding his claim against the estate of the firm’s proprietor, who died in 2015, the Court rejected arguments that he had left it too late to sue. Although he had endured breathing problems for some years, the Court was satisfied that he only became aware that he had suffered a significant injury on the date of diagnosis. His claim had thus been lodged within the three-year primary limitation period that applies to personal injury cases.
On the basis of the man’s impressive evidence, the Court was satisfied that he was regularly required to work with asbestos during the relevant period. No precautions had been taken and his exposure was more than minimal. The amount of compensation due to him would be assessed at a further hearing, if not agreed. The damages would be paid by the firm’s insurers.