Australia has the highest rate of asbestos-related illness per capita in the world, with hundreds of thousands of victims from our state, writes Tindall Gask Bentley Partner Tim White.
Australia has the highest rate of asbestos-related illness per capita in the world, with hundreds of thousands of victims from our state.
Asbestos was used often, and diversely, from the 1940s onwards.
At home, pipes, roofs, walls and insulation were made from the toxic product.
At work, industries such as mining, building, insulation and car manufacturing used asbestos on a daily basis.
While in the latter part of the 20th century, South Australia was a hub for ship construction and asbestos products were used extensively.
It is estimated that 20,000 people worked at Whyalla’s BHP shipyard through the mid-1900s.
The state was also a hub for manufacturing asbestos itself, where it was produced locally and distributed throughout the country.
Among many different types, blue asbestos is regarded as the most hazardous.
Health concerns were first raised in the 1940s, but some types of the product wasn’t banned until the 1980s.
Asbestos causes numerous diseases, including the terminal Mesothelioma.
This deadly illness is usually fatal within 18 months of diagnosis, while lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural plaques and psychiatric conditions are also common.
Many who survive are still plagued by sickness, breathing problems and fatigue.
While the mistakes of the past can’t be undone, victims have at least been able to pursue compensation since the Dust Diseases Act was introduced in 2005.
South Australians can now bring claims to the District Court in Adelaide with a local lawyer, instead of going through the difficult process of facing the Dust Diseases Tribunal in Sydney.
The legislation also helps victims by assuming that their disease was contracted through their occupation, if they worked in an asbestos industry during the relevant period of time.
The Courts also give priority to asbestos claims and often fast track cases, paving the way for quick resolutions.
It is important for victims to talk to a lawyer to assess whether they can make a claim, and if so, how much compensation they are entitled to.
This is determined mainly by the severity of the condition, their age, the on-going treatment required and the affect the condition has had on the victim’s ability to work.
There are also strict time limits for making a claim, making it crucial to seek legal advice as soon as possible once a diagnosis has been made.
Tindall Gask Bentley’s lawyers have been helping people with health problems for more than 40 years, and have acted for victims of Mesothelioma, along with the many other asbestos related conditions.
Expert evidence from doctors, engineers and other appropriate professionals is vital when making these claims, and TGB has access to a considerable pool of suitably qualified experts.