A Teesside solicitor is predicting that 2015 could be the year compensation claims for some asbestos-related conditions will hit their peak.
The deadly mineral was widely used as an insulator, particularly in heavy industries that employed thousands of Teesside workers, such as chemicals, steel, construction and shipbuilding.
For this reason it is estimated that an alarming one in ten UK deaths from mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure, occurs on Teesside.
“Mesothelioma is a hideous cancer that is, sadly, incurable,” says Anthony McCarthy, an asbestos claims expert pictured with Macks Solicitors staff in Middlesbrough (above).
“Because the disease can take up to 50 years to come to light, this year could see the highest number of cases yet.
“Industrial disease has a huge impact on Teesside because of the history of traditional heavy industries here.
“I’ve been involved in fighting to get compensation for many years now and it’s something I’m very passionate about.
“The victims worked for years in a tough job, and then they retire and are killed by what their employers exposed them to. What has happened to these hard working people is an absolute scandal and a tragedy.”
Mesothelioma is just one of several industrial diseases suffered by workers who were exposed to asbestos.
“The further you go back, the less was known about the dangers,” says Anthony.
“If you were exposed in the 1940s or 50s, you have to show the exposure was significant to claim compensation. Back then, employers should have known that exposure in heavy doses was dangerous, but not necessarily that mild exposure was also harmful.”
The turning point came in 1965 when the Sunday Times published an article on the dangers of asbestos, which increased awareness that even low dosage exposure could cause serious health problems.
Because of its prevalence in this area, James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough is experienced in dealing with industrial diseases and is able to offer some of the best treatment available.
Being based in Middlesbrough means Anthony also deals with dozens of cases every year and he is committed to helping his clients get some from of justice.
“Quite often with mesothelioma you’re dealing with the surviving family, the widow who’s got to pick up the pieces after her husband’s death,” he says.
“We understand how difficult it is for people to talk about the subject. We now that no about of money can compensate for the loss they suffered but try to make it as easy as possible to get the family the settlement they’re entitled to.”
Established in 1995, Macks Solicitors has offices in Middlesbrough, Darlington and Redcar and specialises in personal injury claims, family law, employment, Wills and probate and conveyancing.