If you have recently lost a loved one to an asbestos illness you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of your rights and options.
At the moment it may be difficult for you to deal with all the arrangements in the midst of your grief, so this guide has been designed to help.
The Coroner’s Inquest
The inquest is a procedure in which the reason for the death is considered. If someone has died of a disease that might be related to asbestos this could be an ‘unnatural death’ so an investigation or ‘inquest ‘will be needed.
The death is usually reported to the Coroner by the medical staff who were treating the person who has died, although any other person can report the death if they are concerned.
If you suspect that your loved one has died from an asbestos condition we recommend that you ask the attending medical staff to report the death to the coroner. If this is not done straight away, please contact us as we can help.
Part of the inquest procedure may be to examine the body, this must take place before the funeral can go ahead. This is called a postmortem examination and it is performed by a Pathologist. Often small tissue samples are taken from the lungs for analysis to see if they contain asbestos fibres . The Coroner may ask you what you would like to happen to the tissue samples once testing has finished. It is vitally important that the samples are not destroyed. They should be kept as they may be needed for further analysis.
You may have already begun to make arrangements for the funeral to take place after the body is released by the Coroner. You should keep receipts for the expenses of the funeral, as they can form part of the compensation claim.
The Asbestos Compensation Claim
This is a claim against the employer that exposed the deceased person to asbestos. It does not matter how long ago the employment was or if the company has gone out of business. The employers liability insurance company will be responsible for paying the compensation. We solicitors act on a No Win, No Fee basis in cases such as this.
In order to make a legal claim you need to prove the exposure to asbestos, which can be done in a variety of ways however eye witness accounts of the exposure to asbestos is the best way. For this, it is necessary for us to speak to anyone who worked with the person that has died, or knew of their exposure. You should try to put together a list of names and contact details if possible.
You should also keep any documents that relate to the deceased’s persons employment including; CVs, References, Wage Slips, Apprenticeship Deeds, Diaries, and Photographs.
The Executor or Administrator of the Estate is responsible for making the claim and the compensation awarded should be distributed according to the Will.
Applying for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration
You should already have been given an Interim Death Certificate. This will allow you to begin to administer the estate. If a Will was made the person(s) named as Executor(s) can apply for Probate. If no Will was made the next of kin can apply for Letters of Administration.
You may be able to claim benefits on behalf of the person who has died. For an asbestos illness these includeL-
Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB)
This is a weekly payment and the amount increases with the level of disability suffered
Pneumoconiosis (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979/ Mesothelioma 2008 Scheme payment.
This is a one off lump sum payment but is not awarded unless a successful claim for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) has been made. The amount increases with the level of disability but decreases with age.
There are many charities and helplines that provide invaluable assistance to bereaved people. A few are listed below in case you should feel you need support at some point:
Cruse Bereavement Care
“ Thank you to Steven [Evans] for his kindness, patience, efficiency and professionalism throughout this process. I didn’t think my dad would cope well with the requirements but Steven’s calm nature and knowledge made a fairly grim situation much easier to bear. We contacted other solicitors at the start of this process, and their hard-sell approach was dreadful – thank goodness for you and your team! ”