A sudden rise in flu cases is placing even more pressure on the NHS this winter and causing significant bed shortages in hospitals around the country. But what should someone do next if they’re told by their doctor that the results of medical tests show that a persistent cough or a difficulty in catching their breath is not a symptom of flu or a winter bug but actually mesothelioma, the deadly incurable cancer of the lung linings? The need to find answers is just one of the many hurdles to be urgently considered in the time a victim has left.

Doctors are currently warning of hospitals at more than 99 per cent capacity with a high risk of running out of space. With 3.7 million adults reported with symptoms, the number of flu patients is thought to have risen by 67 per cent in just one week. The Society for Acute Medicine (SAM) have said that “respiratory illness is causing a lot of severe symptoms”. While most lingering coughs are not an early symptom of cancer, doctors advise that three weeks should be the upper limit to delaying a visit to a GP or local health clinic.

As with many serious medical conditions, early detection can be crucial to effective treatment, recovery and survival rates. The ability to recognise the first signs of mesothelioma or asbestosis disease has always been especially difficult as early symptoms can often be mistaken for other types of common infections or ailments involving coughing, shortness of breath, chest or stomach pains, such as flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, or similar respiratory diseases – even the common cold.

Often daunting prospect of trying to find answers in the remaining months or weeks

The sudden and unexpected diagnosis of mesothelioma is not only devastating news for the victim and their family, there is also the often daunting prospect of trying to find answers in the remaining months or weeks. For a victim, usually aged 75 and above, life expectancy could be 6 – 18 months. For the victim’s family, there will be a number of hurdles to be immediately faced, including meeting the costs of the specialist care and palliative treatments needed, insurance forms to be correctly completed, and deciding to pursue a claim for mesothelioma compensation.

Starting a civil action to bring those responsible to account involves first finding out who is eligible to apply, the payment limitations, and a number of terms and conditions. Crucially, there is the task of trying to track down former liable employers and their insurers. In many cases, the former employer may no longer be in business and the employer’s insurer can be difficult – but not impossible – to trace.

It soon becomes clear that the services of a legal professional will be urgently needed. But at the same time, it is important to understand that not all solicitor practices have the necessary experience and knowledge in the highly complex and specialised area of law governing mesothelioma claims. It is therefore vital to seek out a dedicated asbestosis lawyer who is not only up-to-date with current legislation but also has access to all the key resources to ensure the patient receives quality medical care and support in the time remaining.

How to choose the right lawyer for you

What are the right questions you need to ask to ensure your legal advocate will really put your interests first, or will they simply advise a settlement that leaves you less than happy about how you will cope financially?

While many claims for mesothelioma can be settled out of court with a former employer – not all cases are straightforward. You will need to feel comfortable working with your legal representative over the duration of the case, and have no doubts over whether they will achieve a successful resolution to your claim.

Given that you have approached a solicitor who says they specialise in mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer cases, it is important to find out the extent of their experience and if they are the right person to fight for you and your family’s best interests.

Questions you should first ask a solicitor:

  • How many mesothelioma and asbestosis cases have they handled in the last three years?
  • How many of the cases dealt with were at a court hearing?
  • Has the law firm taken any cases like yours to settlement and if so, how many?
  • How soon does the solicitor expect to start a court action?
  • How long does it usually take the law firm to conclude mesothelioma cases?
  • How will you be kept informed of what is happening with your claim, and
  • Will you visited by your solicitor at home, at a time convenient to you?
  • Will you be provided with a free initial consultation?
  • Is the solicitor a Fellow of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL)?

The costs involved…

You will also need to ask your solicitor if they:

  • Work on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis – if so, you may have to pay a one-off insurance premium to protect you against the risk of having to pay the defendant’s legal costs and other expenses, such as medical report fees. Payment of the insurance premium may be delayed until the case is finished.
  • Take a percentage of your compensation.
  • Expect you to pay expenses, such as medical report costs and court fees up front.

To help prove your claim, your solicitor should ask you to provide the following:

  • Full and detailed employment history.
  • Names of co-workers who could provide witness support of employment conditions.
  • Full and detailed history of asbestos exposure.
  • Full and detailed medical records/treatments and procedures.
  • If you are an armed services veteran – where you served and were exposed to asbestos.
  • Additional sporting / recreational activities where asbestos exposure could have occurred.