The inhalation of asbestos can cause disease in the lung tissues themselves and in the thin surface membranes that cover the lungs – the pleurae. Pleural plaques are discrete localised areas of fibrosis that typically affect the lining of the inner chest wall (the parietal pleura).
They arise from exposure to asbestos. To all intents and purposes pleural plaques currently found in the British population have been occupationally caused (in contrast to some parts of the world where environmental exposures to asbestos cause an important background incidence of plaque formation).
The degree of exposure sufficient to cause pleural plaques is much lower than that required to cause asbestos-related disease of lung tissue (for example asbestosis), and plaques are widely accepted to be the commonest medical manifestation of asbestos exposure in the population at large.
More information is available in a report of the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council published in June 2009 at http://www.iiac.org.uk/pdf/pos_papers/pp23.pdf
Compensation has been paid for many years for this condition until a Court decision brought it to an end. In October 2007 the House of Lords brought the ability to claim compensation for pleural plaques to an end. Essentially the Court decided that although asbestos fibres had made their way into a person’s body, there was no pain and no symptoms, and therefore there was not an injury to be compensated.
There were many claims on hold, and there was pressure for Parliament to reverse this decision. The Scottish Parliament took that course, but Westminster took a different approach, agreeing to make a payment to those who already had a claim outstanding.
Anyone with an outstanding case should have already been contacted by their own solicitor.
The following information is taken from the Ministry of Justice website, and it is important you read it carefully to understand the process and time limits:
“Pleural plaques former claimants payment scheme
How to apply for a payment under the pleural plaques former claimants payment scheme.
Am I eligible?
To qualify for payment through this scheme, you must have been diagnosed with pleural plaques as a result of exposure to asbestos and have attempted to claim damages for the condition prior to 17 October 2007.
- As part of your damages claim, you must have a) issued a claim form or b) sent a claim letter prior to 17 October 2007 (in line with Pre-Action Protocol for Disease and Illness).Or
- Prior to 17 October 2007 you must have named a defendant/insurer to make your claim against, approached a legal/trade union representative about your case and received confirmation that your case was being taken on
In addition, you must:
- not have received any interim payments from your claim for £5000 or more;
- have never resolved your case.
The criteria listed above are general guidance only. If you would like to check your eligibility, please call 0300 303 8150.
How do I apply?
You can apply by telephone or online.
To apply by telephone, please call 0300 303 8150 – lines are open from 08:30 – 17:00 Mon to Thurs and 08:30 – 16:30 on a Friday.
To apply online complete the online application form.
Your application must be submitted by 1 August 2011 to be eligible.
What supporting documents do I need?
You will need to provide copies of additional documents within 30 days of making your application to support your claim otherwise your claim will be rejected. Please note you can only apply once under this scheme.
The type of documents will depend on whether you had legal representation for your original damages claim.
If you were represented by a solicitor you will need to provide:
- a sealed copy (i.e. sealed by the issuing court) of the claim form [and particulars of claim]; or
- a copy, certified by the solicitor, of the letter of claim and the documents in support which were sent with it to the defendant/insurer.
If you did not send a letter claiming damages as part of your original claim, you will need to provide:
- Proof of diagnosis of pleural plaques resulting from exposure to asbestos (e.g. a medical report).
- Copies of correspondence with the solicitor or trade union (certified by the solicitor or trade union) confirming the taking on of the case prior to 17 October 2007 and its handling.
- Documentation to show that you were working in England or Wales and were exposed to asbestos in the course of that employment.
- Details of the defendant and/or insurer and grounds of claim against that defendant/insurer.
If you were not represented by a solicitor and represented yourself for your original damages claim, you will need to provide:
- a sealed copy (i.e. sealed by the issuing court) of the claim form and particulars of claim; or
- a copy of the letter of claim and the documents in support which were sent with it to the defendant/insurer.”
The scheme makes no reference to solicitor’s charges Please take great care to clarify if your solicitor expects, and is entitled to, any payment for the work they undertook, or will undertake. Do not assume, ask.
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