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Home | Partner providing Q & A on asbestos compensation claims

Effects of asbestos exposure discussed on 2GB

Tuesday, 13 June 2017 

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Luke /FS – Fiona Seaton/C1,2,3, etc – Callers
 

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Luke   131 873 is the number to call for our Turner Freeman segment. Don’t forget, you can call and we will be able to take your calls and today really important issue, the issue of asbestos continues to affect many Australians, now just last Friday South Australian man was awarded a record $1.032 million in asbestos compensation uh as an asbestos victim. Anthony Lax was exposed to asbestos fibres in the seventies while using James Hardy materials in his home he now has sadly, seven months to live as a result of the incurable lung cancer, Mesothelioma. Tragic case, shouldn’t have happened and government are now working to remove asbestos safely, to prevent any future problems. In June last year, NSW government announced the voluntary purchase and demolition programme for all residential properties with loose fill asbestos. That’s what we’ll be talking about today in legal matters and thanks to Turner Freeman Lawyers, and their legal matters segment, we’ve got a $100 Westfield voucher to give away to the caller who asks the relevant question based on today’s topic. TF lawyers provide a range of specialised legal services including compensation and negligence law, asbestos litigation superannuation and disability claims, family and employment law, wills and estate, and property law. Offices in NSW are at Sydney, Parramatta, Campbelltown, Newcastle, Penrith, Wollongong  and Gloucester and in Queensland you can find them in Brisbane, Logan, North Lakes, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Cairns. If you have a question on Personal Injury, give us a call now on 131 873, 131873. Fiona Seaton is a dust disease litigation specialist acting for clients suffering from Mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos related lung cancers for more than 20 years. She’s an accredited specialist in Personal Injury Law, and a partner at Turner Freeman Lawyers Sydney Office and Fiona is with us in the studio, lovely to see you.

FS        Hi Luke, how are you?

Luke    I’m very well indeed, this topic for probably lots of reasons individually, in this country over the last 10 or 20 or 30 years, has got a special place in many of our hearts because we have here people working essentially with building materials that were readily available, and we thought, I guess we’re safe and proven to be quite the opposite and the pain and the trauma caused by the Mesothelioma is so heartbreaking to watch, and we’ve seen that happen with from time to time with people in our community.

FS        So much, it’s really probably in my view, one of the biggest scandals, industrial scandals that we have in this country and non-industrial settings as well as you say with people innocently in a way renovating their homes, or building their own homes, it was the wonder product post World War Two, when there was a real problem finding building materials and it was a very profitable business.

Luke    It seemed to take forever to a position where a manufacturer and those affected found some common ground, and settlements were able to be achieved. Is that because there was so much at stake for the business? Our system where we get to prosecute all of this takes too long? What’s your take?

FS        That’s a very good question to ask, I think partly it was um it was to do with our legal system. The first cases in NSW were run by our managing partner in the early 1980s and they were brought in the Supreme Court and basically people died before their claims could be heard. In 1989 a specialist court was set up in this state just to deal with all these claims and that’s a very impressive system we now have in this state. But I think partly there was probably a resistance to advising people. Warnings did start to be placed on building products in the late 1970s but people knew a long time before that that people were at risk with diseases from using the asbestos.

Luke    Are we anywhere near just on a side, we’ll take some calls in a moment 131 873, call through I won’t forget you, we’ll come to you shortly, but are we close at all or near a solution, near a time where you know we might be able to give people some hope because it seems once they’re diagnosed, you know their consequences are dire.

FS        I think that’s right, there’s certainly a lot more hope now with Mesothelioma than there has been in the years I’ve been practising in this area, so there’s a lot of really good research that’s being done and there a clinical trials now being run which are having some really positive results, so, say 20 years ago people’s prognosis was very short and now there’s a lot more hope, there’s a lot more treatment options available and we’re getting there but there’s still a long way to go in terms of there’s no cure, it’s just a question of can you improve people’s quality of life and extend the life expectancy and things have been a lot more positive on that front.

Luke    Alright, let’s go to some callers here, g’day Phillip.

C1       G’day mate how you going? I’ve just pulled up so I’ll get off the speaker phone, won’t be a sec.

Luke    No, no dramas, no dramas at all, 131 873, go ahead mate.

C1       Uh I did an apprenticeship with the state government back in the 80s, and I was working with a specialist steam pipes, for pretty much four years, now I don’t have any problems, I’m 53 years old, but I’m just wondering is there anything I should do, just in case I do in the future. Like we’re going back 30 years, now I haven’t got any problems at the minute, but uh

FS        I think the best thing you can do uh, is you can contact the Dust Disease Authority, they’re a state government, NSW government body.

C1       Oh yep.

FS        And tell them you’ve been exposed to asbestos, they may ask you to do an x-ray or they may ask to see any x-rays you’ve had done. And they’ll keep an eye on you, its at no cost to you, and then you’ve got sort of your exposure registered in a way, hopefully you’ll never need to know about it. The other thing –

C1       Well I have – Sorry carry on…

FS        No, I was just gonna say, the other thing to keep in mind, is every time you see a doctor, if you’ve got a persistent dry cough, or any of those other symptoms, just don’t forget to mention that you have been exposed to asbestos in the past.

C1       Yea, yea. No worries.

Luke    Alright, good luck, thank you mate, g’day Chris. On 1 g’day Chris.

C2       Which one?

Luke    You, hahaha

C2       Okay, uhhh two questions, one is with regard to the state inspections. They have sent an inspect around, to a friend of mine’s place, and all the guy did was poke his head up through the face in the ceiling in the hallway in the little crawl space thing you know. and grabbed a coles nut bag and put some stuff in it, and took it away, they came back saying nothing was found. But my question is, this lady had had her place vacuumed out 10 years ago, and so presumably this stuff was in there before, this loose filling insulation was in there because that was what she was told at the time, but the fella who did the inspection, really didn’t look beyond this opening hole, so I don’t think he even really knows what is still remaining on the tops of the walls, and around the ceiling spaces that are in the upper ceiling area, because they put insulation in, in one of those insulation let’s do it now sort of thing. So what should she do now to make sure she doesn’t, actually isn’t living in a house that actually has that junk in it before?

FS        The really only way she can be sure probably is to find someone herself to do an inspection which will cost her money of course which is you know, the price she may have to pay to be satisfied herself.

Luke    Chris thank you for the call. Maree, good afternoon.

C3       Good afternoon. Now my husband’s been diagnosed with Asbestosis and I’m just wondering, where do we go now?

FS        Has he registered with the Dust Diseases Authority? Was he exposed to asbestos while he was a worker?

C3       Well, I’m not sure, he seems to think he has.

FS        Right, well I mean I’m obviously gonna say he should ring me and I’ll talk to him about what to do but the first thing to consider properly is to contact the Dust Diseases Authority, and register with them and see a lawyer to get some legal advice about bringing a claim.

C3       Well he’s here now, would you speak to him.

Luke    I’ll tell you what we’ll do Maree, if you don’t mind because this is something that should probably be done off air and privately so what we’ll do is uh I’ll make sure that we’ve got your details and we’ll pass them on then you and Fiona can or whoever, if you are of that view you can have that conversation off air, but so Maree don’t hang up stay right there we’ll just get your number. Now that’s interesting, because I can on Maree’s behalf ask just generally you get the diagnosis from the doctor, but what gets me Fiona, is the doctor then doesn’t say right, you need to go here. So you’ve actually go to be aware of the fact that there is, what is this place you’ve talked about?

FS        You know there are some doctors who are very well versed in this and you know, do a very good job of advising – absolutely, and you know we see a lot of people come through to us because their doctors have raised it. But just generally ah, there are two sort of potential ways of being compensated in NSW. One is the Dust Diseases Authority which pays weekly expenses and medical expenses for people who have a dust disease because they were exposed to asbestos for example while working in NSW. So that doesn’t cover people who do do it yourself home renovations because they weren’t workers at the time. Um but the other thing is to think about whether there’s a common law claim, and that involves seeing a lawyer and we can tell people whether or not they’ve got good chances of succeeding in a claim brought to say that someone’s negligence has caused an asbestos related disease so there are really two things to consider. But a lot of doctors are really fantastic at saying to their patients you know you need to do this, particularly so because there are now clinical trials for mesothelioma treatment for example that are very expensive and so if people have coverage from the dust diseases authority for example, then they may get a contribution to those medical expenses and I’ve noticed that doctors are a lot more in tune with the need for clients, their patients to go and see people at the Dust Diseases Authority and lawyers.

Luke    Yep. Fiona thank you for coming in. And thank you for taking those calls and having your expertise its been good to have you here this afternoon.

FS        Such a pleasure, thank you.

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