VICTIMS of asbestos-related cancer in Scotland could be in line for bigger payouts following a ruling in their favour at the Court of Session.
A worker who sought compensation when he developed pleural plaques on his lungs as a result of being exposed to asbestos was awarded £15,000, a sum significantly higher than the usual level of payout for this type of condition.
Roger Harris contracted the illness after working amid clouds of asbestos dust and fibres when he was employed as a boiler maker with the Ministry of Defence between 1961 and 1977.
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The award more than doubles the level or compensation usually seen in agreements used by some legal firms and insurers to settle claims of this type.
Digby Brown Solicitors, who represent Mr Harris, say the decision was “very significant” and it showed that courts were prepared to award compensation on a case by case basis.
While benign in themselves, pleural plaques are an indicator of exposure to asbestos, and sufferers face a lifetime risk of developing conditions such as pleural thickening, asbestosis, asbestos-related lung cancer and mesothelioma.
The decision is the second major judgement on compensation levels for victims of asbestos exposure in the last few months in Scotland, with William Wales receiving £8500 in provisional damages after being diagnosed with pleural plaques.
Claimants seeking compensation after developing an asbestos-related condition can choose to resolve their case on either a provisional or full and final damages basis.
In both cases, Digby Brown argued the level of compensation appropriate for the pursuer ought to accurately reflect the specific health risks involved along with the individual’s distress and anxiety suffered as a consequence of this diagnosis.
Fraser Simpson, Digby Brown Partner and head of the firm’s Industrial Disease Department said: “This is a very significant decision for those whose lives have been affected as a result of asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure disease is not a legacy of our industrial past but something affecting individuals and families in Scotland today.
“Although the diagnosis of pleural plaques is shocking enough, sufferers are also forced to cope with the daily fear that a more serious disease may develop.
“The decision recognises the importance of assessing each case subjectively, and shows the progress made by Scottish Courts in recognising the distress caused by the presence of pleural plaques.”