When victims of asbestos disease are diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, they are entitled to make a claim for a personal injury settlement.
Sadly on some occasions, the sufferer will pass away during the claim process. In this situation, the victim’s claim would pass to the estate and the sufferer’s executors under the Will if there is a Will and will continue the claim in place of the sufferer. Any compensation that the sufferer would have received will then pass to his estate to be distributed in accordance with his/her Will.
On other occasions, victims of asbestos disease pass away from asbestos-related diseases without making a Will. This situation is not uncommon, and it is always our advice for everyone, irrespective of making an asbestos claim to have a Will which is up to date which clearly expresses the wishes of the patient to ensure that their estate is dealt with in accordance with their instructions.
We have a dedicated Wills and Probate team who would be able to assist in preparing a Will if you do not already have one.
Where someone has passed away from an asbestos-related disease, and there is no Will, a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration are required in order to continue the claim. Our Lifetime Planning team can assist with this, and often the cost of obtaining the Grant of Probate can be included within a claim for mesothelioma or asbestosis where someone has died as a result of negligent asbestos exposure.
When someone dies from an asbestos-related disease, the Coroner must always be notified. The Coroner’s officers are trained in advising family and next of kin on what to do next, and it is important that where there has been a death due to an asbestos-related disease that specialist asbestos solicitors are contacted to check if there are grounds to make a civil legal claim or at the very least government benefits may be recoverable.
What shall I do after someone dies?
Where you think that there are grounds to make a civil legal claim for asbestos-related disease, it is important that the Coroner is notified of the death.
Where a sufferer is already under the care of the hospital or GP in relation to an asbestos-related disease, the Coroner is routinely notified, but if you think a death should be notified to the Coroner and it has not already been, you must do so as soon as possible in order to preserve the evidence.
On some occasions, a Post Mortem is required, this is where lung tissue samples are taken from the deceased, and these important tissue samples must be retained for the duration of the claim. If any lung tissue samples are destroyed, and medical evidence is not conclusive confirming a diagnosis in lifetime the claim may fail.
The Coroner’s officers are aware of the importance of keeping evidence safe, and you will be asked to retain the lung tissue samples on behalf of the deceased or the estate.
As an executor or administrator of the estate, you are responsible for making a claim on behalf of the deceased and to ensure that any compensation awarded is distributed in accordance with the deceased’s Will if there is a Will.
It is important that you also keep all documents relating to the deceased, especially documents in relation to pensions, employment, accounts, former CVs, references from colleagues, payslips, apprenticeship deeds, bank statements, photographs, personal diaries and newspaper clippings.
If you are suffering following the death of a loved one with grief and anxiety, there are charities available to help you through the grieving process. The Ashtons Legal asbestos team can put you in touch with various organisations should you require any support, and you would be welcome to attend the Anglia Asbestos Disease Support Group to spend time with sufferers and widows and widowers of others who have lost loved ones to this insidious disease.