We’ve all heard about accidents in the workplace, but it’s possible to become ill through the work you do as well. It’s rare, of course, but in some instances people fall ill because of the work they did many years before. When this happens, someone may be diagnosed with an illness that was caused by working at a business that no longer exists.
While some businesses last for many years, others cease trading after a time. This could be due to many reasons, but it can be problematic for a former worker diagnosed with a work-related illness if the business they were part of no longer exists. Illnesses that are most likely to develop in this instance are those related to asbestos exposure. There was a time when no one realised how dangerous asbestos was, and how long it took to become ill following prolonged exposure. Hence why many people who develop an asbestos-related illness find their former company no longer exists.
How long might it take to develop an illness following asbestos exposure?
This depends on the individual, but there is evidence that a period of around 30 years can pass before symptoms develop. Some individuals may be affected sooner, while others may not experience any ill-effects until many more years have passed. Still more do not fall ill at all, so it is by no means certain any individual will develop an illness related to asbestos exposure.
There are several illnesses related to asbestos exposure alone:
Sadly, asbestos is the biggest cause of deaths related to the workplace in the UK today. Over 84,000 people each year die from an illness associated with previous exposure to asbestos. There is no cure for the illnesses that are derived from this exposure. Many people die sooner than they would have done otherwise. Doctors will try to make life as painless and comfortable as possible for the affected person following diagnosis as the disease progresses.
Is it possible to claim anything in compensation?
If an individual is injured while at work and they were not at fault for what happened, the normal procedure is to determine whether someone else was at fault, i.e. the employer. If so, the possibility to claim compensation from the employer exists. However, in the case of asbestos-related illnesses, it’s perfectly possible for several decades to have passed before the illness comes to light. In some instances, people find the companies they worked for no longer exist, and have not existed for some years.
So, does this mean the trail has gone cold? Not always. In many cases, it is possible to trace information about the company or former business to identify the insurance they held at the time. All employers should hold liability insurance to cover any incidence of having to pay compensation to someone who was injured or made ill through doing their usual work. If the employer is found to be liable, their insurance company will settle the claim. When the business no longer exists, it may mean the insurance cover has long since ceased as well. But there is hope in this situation, as we are about to see.
The Employers’ Liability Tracing Office (ELTO)
At this point, you may think any hope you have of making a compensation claim for your illness is fading fast. However, there is a good chance you can still claim, since Accident Advice Helpline has extensive experience of dealing with compensation claims relating to illnesses caused by asbestos. If there is medical proof of your condition and you know when and where you were exposed to the asbestos, we can look at your situation and determine whether a claim may be awarded to you.
In doing so, we make use of the Employers’ Liability Tracing Office, or ELTO. This is run by the insurance industry and makes it easier to find information on an old employer’s liability insurance policy, even when that policy has long since ceased to be. So, if you know your company no longer exists, there is still a chance the correct insurance policy details can be unearthed through this scheme.
What about other industrial illnesses and claims?
Industrial illnesses can change lives in many ways, and it’s not just asbestos-related illness that falls into this category. You may have been diagnosed with another illness because of the work you do. Perhaps the business you worked for only ceased trading very recently.
If so, and you think you still have a right to claim compensation, call Accident Advice Helpline on the numbers given below. We also provide you with the chance to complete an online test if you want some immediate answers to the questions you’re bound to have. It’s heartening, however, to know you still have a shot at claiming even when your former company no longer exists. We can help you work out whether a claim would be right for you.
Learn more about how we can help you
Calling Accident Advice Helpline is easy. You can call free on 0800 689 0500, or call on your mobile by ringing 0333 500 0993. Whichever number you use to call us, you can rest assured you will get advice and support concerning any potential claim you may be able to make, even if your former company no longer exists. Being diagnosed with a life-changing illness related to asbestos is devastating, not just for the person who receives the diagnosis but also for their family and friends. The future you imagined may now look very different.
Even if your company no longer exists, our solicitors are experienced and capable of tracing insurance policies held by that company. Once we have your details, we can start looking at your case and hopefully work towards a compensation award for you. Compensation won’t change the diagnosis you have received, but it can make your life easier and more comfortable.