Exposure to asbestos can lead to life threatening illnesses including mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and many other asbestos-related diseases.  If you have been exposed to asbestos and have developed an asbestos-related illness as a result of the exposure, then it is likely that you will be able to claim for damages and compensation.

Exposed but not ill

Exposure to asbestos will not be enough, on its own, to result in a successful compensation claim. If you know that you have been exposed to asbestos, but have not developed any asbestos-related illnesses, then we recommend that you:

  • keep detailed records of your exposure; and
  • have regular medical check ups to monitor your health ensuring that your medical practitioner is fully aware of your history of exposure.

Should you subsequently become ill with an asbestos-related disease, then these measures will help your lawyer in making an asbestos claim on your behalf.

If you develop an asbestos-related illness but do not know whether you have been exposed, then you should consult an expert to help you identify whether your illness may be the result of asbestos exposure.  You may be able to claim compensation even if you do not find out how you were exposed.

What kind of compensation can I claim?

If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness as a result of exposure, then you may be able to make an asbestos claim, among other things:

  • your medical expenses and associated costs, such as travel;
  • pain and suffering;
  • loss of income; and
  • the cost of help around the home.

How do I make an asbestos claim?

Depending on your situation, you may be able to pursue an asbestos claim for negligence through the NSW Dust Diseases Tribunal and/or an asbestos claim for compensation through the Dust Diseases Board of NSW (DDB).

DDB

The Dust Diseases Board of NSW is a statutory workers compensation scheme that provides compensation and support to people who have work-related exposure to harmful dust in NSW.  The DDB provides weekly payments and covers all medical expenses.  Dependants can also make claims.  The level of weekly payments depends on many factors.  You are able to call the DDB directly to discuss your situation.  You can make a claim to the DDB directly by following the guides on the website.  Owen Hodge Lawyers can also guide you through the process.

DDT

The DDT is a court that hears claims for damages from dust-related diseases and from dependants of sufferers who have died.  Asbestos Claims are made against employers, site occupiers and product manufactures.  The DDT is the only court of its kind in the world.  The DDT operates on a faster schedule than a normal court due to the fact that claimants are often gravely ill. The process also includes support for both parties to come to an early settlement.

While you can represent yourself before the DDT, the DDT recommends that all parties should consider getting legal advice due to the complexities involved.  Once proceedings have commenced, general damages for pain and suffering survive even if the claimant dies before the proceedings are completed.  This means that the damages can be awarded to the claimant’s estate.

Any award you receive from the DDT should not affect the level of compensation you receive from the DDB.

Am I entitled to anything else?

In addition to damages and compensation, you may be entitled to make other claims including under the terms of:

  • your superannuation policy; and
  • any personal insurance policies that you have.

If you are a current or former Commonwealth employee or a former member of the Australia Defence Forces, you may be eligible for other entitlements.

Next steps

If you suspect that you have been exposed to asbestos or have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, then you should seek legal advice on your situation as quickly as possible.  Owen Hodge Lawyers are able to talk you through your options and guide you through the process.  Please call us for an obligation free discussion of your situation. Give us a call on 1800 770 780 or contact us via ohl@owenhodge.com.au to schedule a consultation with one of our personal injury solicitors and learn more.