General Advice for those who have worked with Asbestos
Asbestos related illness could take 10 - 50 years to develop. At present, unfortunately, if you develop an asbestos related disease, in order to pursue any claim to compensation the onus of proving where, when and why, lies firmly on the victim.
Any person who has come into contact with asbestos as a result of their employment should gather statements from any witness now in the form of an affidavit. These should be kept in a safe place in case you develop on the disease in future, as it can be very difficult locating witnesses many years after exposure.
If you develop breathing problems make sure that your doctor etc. is made aware of your past exposure to asbestos.
Make a record of your employment history including employer, dates, employers business, your job and what it entailed, your place of work and any other information that is relevant to proving your employment. Remember it is much easier to dispose of items that you have and do not need, than to acquire things you need that you do not have.
Death from Asbestos related illness.
If a person dies or is suspected of having died, with an asbestos related condition, then the death will be reported to the Coroner. Once a death has been reported to the Coroner the Registrar cannot register the death until the Coroner’s enquiry is complete. These enquiries can take some time so you will need to contact the Coroner before making funeral arrangements. Deaths from asbestos are considered to be unnatural.
The Coroner will normally ask for a post mortem examination to help establish the cause of death. If the Coroner establishes that the death was not due to natural causes then they are obliged to hold an inquest.
In asbestos cases it is not unusual for an inquest to be adjourned to allow for investigations to take place. A form will normally be issued to allow the funeral to take place. An adjourned inquest will be reopened at a later date to determine the circumstances surrounding the death.
Where there is a delay between death and the holding of an inquest it is possible for the Coroner to issue interim death certificates if requested. You should contact the Coroner responsible for the inquest.
What happens at an Inquest
The Coroner will hold a medical/legal enquiry into the death of the deceased, but this is not a trial. The purpose of the inquest is to establish the identity of the deceased, and to decide how, when and why a person has died and to establish facts required by the Registrar. It is not the Coroner’s role to apportion blame to any person. Evidence will need to be collected to provide the Coroner with information to assist them with deciding these questions. The Coroner will normally seek medical evidence, obtain statements from people who have information relating to employment, asbestos exposure etc. of the deceased person. Family members are often asked for statements and these are usually taken by the Coroner’s officers.
At the inquest the Coroner will consider all the evidence relevant to the case and ask questions from any witnesses. It is normal for a family member, usually the next of kin, to take the oath and assist the Coroner with facts relating to the deceased person. At the end of the inquest the Coroner will make known their findings and will register the death.
The Coroner will inform you where and when the death has been registered and a full death certificate can be purchased.