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Tracey Graham: The right to sue for Pleural Plaques (scarring of the lining of the lung caused by asbestos)

In December Northern Ireland executives announced that those people suffering from the asbestos-related lung condition ‘pleural plaques’ will be able to seek compensation from 14 December 2011.  The right to sue for compensation for pleural plaques – a scarring of the lining of the lungs caused by asbestos – was ended on 17 October 2007 when the House of Lords ruled in favour of insurers in a test case. That ruling has been overturned in Scotland and now in Northern Ireland by the devolved governments. Whilst it is very good news that plaques sufferers in Scotland and Northern Ireland can be compensated for developing pleural plaques, it sadly still leaves claimants in England and Wales with no rights to claim compensation. The Ministry of Justice previously made £5000 awards available for a brief time although the limited period to apply for the compensation drew to a close earlier this year.Exposure to asbestos remains a serious health and safety issue. The decision by the House of Lords in 2007 meant the end to an established right to compensation for pleural plaques that had existed for many years previously.  In the past, claimants could receive compensation of up to £15,000, and have their case concluded on a provisional damages basis, in case they developed further illnesses later. Although pleural plaques seldom causes immediate symptoms, it is a condition that is associated with an increased risk of developing more serious asbestos-related illnesses. Victims have to live with the anxiety of not knowing if they will be one of those who later develop further symptoms that may foreshorten their life.  Tracey Graham is a partner in Personal Injury in the Manchester office of Russell Jones & Walker.If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or an injury please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 916 9046, fill in our short online claim form or email and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.