Posted by Helen Childs, Partner
Over £100,000 in payments secured in 7 weeks for new client who feared his mesothelioma claim couldn’t be progressed quickly
Our specialist Industrial Diseases team, who are experts in the field of mesothelioma, demonstrate their expertise by showing how they have managed to turn around a case from another firm that seemed to be going nowhere and – in a matter of weeks – secure over £100,000 in payments to a new client.
Our specialist mesothelioma claims team was recently instructed by Mr H from Cardiff, who is in his 70s. Having been diagnosed with biphasic mesothelioma in February, his treating physician gave his contact details to a firm of solicitors in Cheltenham who called Mr and Mrs H the very next day. At this time Mr and Mrs H couldn’t have known the importance of instructing a specialist lawyer, and wouldn’t have realised that APIL and Mesothelioma UK have a list of specialist verified asbestos claims solicitors.
Mr H therefore instructed the Cheltenham firm to pursue his claim in February, which then proceeded at an agonisingly slow pace. Mr H was extensively exposed to asbestos as a young man in the West Midlands, but it wasn’t until July – five months after instructing the solicitors – that his former employers were notified of his claim. Furthermore, no steps were taken to obtain medical evidence and the witness evidence was not disclosed until later; Mr H wasn’t even advised about benefits or the government’s lump sum.
As the primary carer for his wife, who has MS, the impact of Mr H’s diagnosis on the couple was particularly profound. Mr H was therefore keen to explore whether any other treatment might help to prolong his life. Through their own research, Mr H’s family discovered that immunotherapy – a fast-developing treatment for mesothelioma – might help keep his tumour in check, extending his life expectancy and enabling him to continue caring for his wife for as long as possible.
In order to progress with the immunotherapy, Mr H saw a local oncologist privately and was found to be a good candidate for the treatment. He was able to fund the first course – costing £32,000 – himself, but could not commit to more. Mr H therefore advised his solicitors that he needed their assistance to be in a position to fund the next course in late September.
There are specialist judges in the High Court in London who deal with mesothelioma and other asbestos related illnesses, dedicated to fast-tracking these claims at least to judgment so those families affected know where they stand as soon as possible. Special protocols also govern how these claims should be approached before court proceedings are commenced, and they make it clear that whereas the defendants usually have three months to investigate matters after receiving the letter of claim. If matters are very urgent there are therefore systems in place to fast-track claims, if you understand this specialist area.
As can be imagined, Mr H and his family were becoming increasingly anxious about funding his future treatment and felt they were being fobbed off by their solicitor when they pressed for progress. The solicitor told them that there was nothing he could do to get court proceedings underway until November, which was far too late for continuity if Mr H’s treatment.
His patience having understandably run dry, Mr H sought advice from Royds Withy King about the possibility of changing solicitors to ensure his claim progressed more quickly.
How our team turned things around for Mr H
He instructed Helen Childs on Saturday 18 August, and before the end of that weekend she had sought the papers from the previous firm, contacted the defendants, sought medical records and obtained immunotherapy evidence, drafted a much more detailed statement and applied for the government’s lump sum. As soon as the file arrived from the previous solicitors, an application to the no win no fee insurers to back the claim was made.
Court proceedings were commenced immediately after the insurers agreed cover, before the end of August, served on the defendants, and an application to decide the issue of liability was made and listed to be heard in early October – just a week after the defendant’s defence was due. By now the defendants had given a strong indication the claim would be admitted. This confirmation, together with the £14,000 government lump sum, allowed Mr H to commit to the next course of immunotherapy – a CT scan after the first cycle having confirmed he was responding well to the treatment.
Judgment has now been entered for Mr H – just seven weeks after we were instructed – and a payment of £100,000 has been agreed on account of Mr H’s claim. Further evidence is needed to enable the balance due to him to be assessed early next year.
The family were delighted and very relieved that they could now focus on Mr h’s treatment and care for them both, knowing that the defendants has accepted responsibility for his illness and that his current financial and his wife’s future care needs will be met.
Helen Childs, head of Royds Withy King’s specialist Industrial Diseases team, confirmed:
“I was so pleased to be able to progress Mr H’s claim to judgment and a 100k interim in just 7 weeks. When I met Mr and Mrs H they were very stressed and worried about the slow progress in their claim, and felt let down by their solicitor and also their doctor – who had passed their details on to a lawyer who they felt lacked the expertise to pursue the claim proactively. They are such a lovely family and should not have to do battle with their lawyers as well as come to terms with Mr H’s diagnosis. Anyone who finds themselves in this situation should seek specialist advice from an APIL or Meso UK accredited solicitor”
If you have any questions for our specialist mesothelioma and asbestos related claims team, please contact them today.
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Taking action by bringing a personal injury compensation claim can help ease a stressful situation