The High Court has recently ruled that a previous settlement of a claim for an Asbestos condition on a Full and Final basis may not necessarily prevent future claims if further Asbestos-related disease develops.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers successfully settled this precedent-setting case for Mr Dowdall who worked as a labourer for various companies throughout the 1960s and 1970s. His duties involved assisting with stripping and renewing Asbestos lagging and the work exposed him to significant quantities of Asbestos dust and fibres. Mr Dowdall was not provided with a mask or any respiratory protection nor given any warnings about the danger of Asbestos to his health.
After developing Asbestosis in 2003 Mr Dowdall started an Asbestos Compensation Claim. It wasn’t possible at the time of claim to trace all the companies that he man worked for over the years. Several of them had gone out of business and their insurance companies couldn’t be traced. Mr Dowdall therefore couldn’t recover the full damages in respect of his Asbestosis and his claim settled on a full and final basis against the companies that could be traced and successfully sued.
Unfortunately, Mr Dowdall went on to develop Mesothelioma and instructed Slater and Gordon Lawyers to handle the case. We were able to trace some of the employers who could not be sued as part of Mr Dowdall’s original claim and were also able to trace their insurance companies.
Mr Dowdall’s former employers defended the claim vigorously, arguing that bringing a new claim was an abuse of process and that a further claim should not be allowed. They also argued that limitation had expired and that the claim should be struck out. The judge found that there was no abuse of process and although he considered that limitation had expired he exercised his discretion to allow the claim to be brought out of time. Following this trial we were then successful in settling the new claim by Mr Dowdall for his development of Mesothelioma.
The ruling is significant as is sets a new precedent that people bringing similar Asbestos compensation claims can rely on. It means that insurance companies need to carefully review the terms on which they settle claims as a ‘full and final settlement’ may not necessarily mean that people can’t bring another claim if they develop additional Asbestos-related disease.
It is right that Mr Dowdall was awarded compensation for his development of Mesothelioma. He did not recover full compensation in his earlier claim for Asbestosis because employer liability insurance cover for several employers could not be traced. Many insurance companies failed to maintain records of the employers they insured even when it was well known that illnesses like Mesothelioma could take many years to develop. They badly let down the victims of Asbestos disease.
We hope that this case may help Asbestos victims who were denied full compensation in earlier claims to get full entitlement if they are unfortunate enough to develop further Asbestos illness.
Slater and Gordon are one of the UK's leading experts in Mesothelioma compensation. We have offices in England, Scotland and Wales and offer home or hospital visits for people who cannot attend our offices.
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