Posted by Helen Childs, Partner
Claims against solicitors for mishandled industrial disease claims
When you or your family member have been affected by an industrial disease, you will rely on an expert solicitor for help and advice with your claim. While most of the time the solicitor will represent your interests perfectly well, sometimes things go wrong leaving you or your family out of pocket. Claims for asbestos-related illnesses are very specialist, with many pitfalls for unwary solicitors, and even very experienced lawyers sometimes make mistakes.
You may have already made a claim for damages for an asbestos-related illness. Your solicitor’s mistakes could have resulted in one of the following situations:
- you have not succeeded in your claim
- your claim has been successful but you have received too little
- your claim was settled on a “full and final” basis when you should have been advised against doing this.
These are the most frequent things that can go wrong in a claim for industrial disease:
1. Settlements that are too low
Your lawyers may simply have undervalued your claim. They may have failed to properly consider the medical report or to appreciate the seriousness of your condition or assess the financial losses that you have suffered.
2. Missing defendants
Your solicitors may have not made sufficient efforts to track down all of your previous employers, resulting in a compensation lower than what you deserved. You may have a claim for the additional damages.
3. Inadequate benefits advice
You may not have been advised about making a claim for benefits. Some benefits have strict time limits, and if you have missed out because of your solicitors you may have a claim against them. For example, a Workers Compensation Scheme pays a lump sum to people affected by mesothelioma or other lung conditions. The time limit for dependants to make a claim – one year from the death of their loved one – is often overlooked.
4. Missed time limits and deadlines
Your solicitors may have missed the normal three year time limit, or failed to pursue your claim quickly enough, again reducing your compensation. They may for example have failed to obtain or serve crucial evidence in time, meaning you can’t rely on it.
5. Bad tactical advice
Tactics considerations are crucial. In industrial disease claims the most likely example of this is in relation to mesothelioma, cancer or asbestosis. This is because with such a serious illness the timing of a settlement can have a big impact on the amount of damages received. If you didn’t receive any advice about this, you may have received insufficient compensation.
6. Inadequte advice about provisional damages awards
If you had a diagnosis of asbestosis, lung cancer, pleural thickening or pleural plaques there is a small risk that further conditions will develop. Your solicitors may not have carried out any analysis of the likely compensation if you did get worse, which they should have done in order to advise you properly.
7. Giving up too easily
Your lawyers may have dropped your claim without proper investigations. For example, they may have considered only one potential type of claim (typically against your employers) and decided the evidence wasn’t strong enough, and failed to ask you about other potential exposures to asbestos.
If you think you or your family may have a claim for professional negligence against your solicitor or you feel for some reason that you have been short changed, we can give free impartial advice. Contact a member of our team today on 0800 051 8057.
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