Questions to ask lawyers

 

Is my first appointment free?
Some lawyers provide the first appointment free. Ask about this when you make an appointment.

Is this lawyer/law firm experienced in dust/asbestos cases?
Many lawyers specialise in particular areas of law. Ask your lawyer what experience they have had with your type of problem.

Are all the lawyers experienced in dust/asbestos cases?
Find out who will actually be doing the work. Ask to be told if your case is referred to another lawyer in the firm.

What are my options?
After you have explained your problem, ask your lawyer to outline your options and how your problem can be solved. If you don't understand something ask the lawyer to explain. Ask if there are any ways to solve your problem without going to court.

What are my chances of success?
Ask your lawyer about your chances of success. Discuss what you consider to be a successful result. Take time to think things over.

What work will your lawyer be doing?
Ask the lawyer how the work will be done and to explain what steps are involved. Also ask your lawyer about how you will be informed of the progress of your case.

How long will it take?
Can anything be done to speed things up?  Ask if there might be delays and how they can be avoided.

How much will it cost?
You can shop around - remember you can negotiate. Cost is not the only factor in choosing a lawyer. In most cases your lawyer must advise you in writing how much the work will cost or, if that is not possible, how costs will be calculated.

When do I have to pay?
In most cases your lawyer must advise you in advance and in writing how and when you will have to pay. You are entitled to receive a detailed bill before you pay. Some lawyers will agree to wait until the matter ends before you pay them. Remember how and when you pay can always be negotiated.

No-win-no-fee
Ask if the case is run on a 'no win, no fee basis'. If it is, ask what else you might have to pay and if you have to pay anyone else's legal costs if you lose the case. Ask who pays for tests and additional information which needs to be researched. If so, ask if any of these need to be paid up-front.

Only sign if you are happy with all of the above
Don't sign any agreement about fees unless you understand it and are happy with it. Tell your lawyer you want to be kept informed about costs as the case progresses.

Myths and Misconceptions

Don’t believe “Asbestos is banned in Australia, so no-one can be exposed anymore”. From 31 December 2003, it is illegal to use, re-use or sell any products containing any form of asbestos in Australia, but asbestos exists still in many forms, and is dangerous if disturbed or deteriorating.

Don’t believe “Dangers of asbestos exposure have been exaggerated”. The asbestos industry tried to assert that “such anxiety is based on an unjustifiable exaggeration of the health hazards” – this has been proven to be a false claim.

Don’t believe ”Workers knew the risks and ignored them”. Industry, governments and insurance companies knew that asbestos could kill but didn't warn the workers.

Don’t believe “Only those who work with asbestos are in any danger”. The dust and fibres can travel through the air over considerable distances.

Don’t believe “Asbestos should immediately be removed once found”. In good condition, it can be left alone.

Don’t believe “It takes prolonged exposure to contract an asbestos related disease”. There is no known safe exposure time.

Don’t believe “You are fine if a mask is worn while dealing with asbestos”. Full protective clothing should be worn and disposed of safely.

Don’t believe “There’s a good kind of asbestos”. Any type of asbestos can cause disease.

Don’t believe ‘There’s only one kind of asbestos”. There are blue, white and brown types of asbestos.

Don’t believe “There’s only one disease associated with asbestos”. Asbestos exposure can lead to pleural plaques, asbestosis, mesothelioma or lung cancer.

Don’t believe “Mesothelioma is just another name for lung cancer”. It is a separate form of cancer.

Don’t believe “Mesothelioma only affects the lungs”. It can occur in the peritoneum and, less often, in the pericardium.

Don’t believe “Only old people get mesothelioma”. But there is a long lag time between exposure and the onset of symptoms.

 

Is Asbestos Dust Dangerous

Is Dust Dangerous?
Yes very dangerous.

What are the most significant Diseases caused by Asbestos?
• Asbestosis
• Asbestos induced carcinoma
• Asbestos related pleural disease
• Mesothelioma

Asbestosis
Asbestosis is a scarring of the spongy part of the lung. It stiffens the lungs and makes them less able to transfer oxygen. The immediate effect is breathlessness usually with exertion, but later even minimal amounts of exercise can cause breathlessness. The disease tends to progress and severe cases can result in death from respiratory failure

Asbestos related pleural disease
Asbestos related pleural disease is a process that usually begins with an inflammation of the pleura that leads to fluid collecting in the space between the lung and the chest wall. This is also commonly referred to as benign asbestos related pleural effusion.

The disease normally manifests sooner after asbestos exposure than mesothelioma. Symptoms include shortness of breath and discomfort. When the pleural fluid eventually goes away, the pleura on the lung may become thickened which can compress the lung.

Asbestos induced carcinoma of the lung
This is often referred to as bronchogenic carcinoma. It is recognized as being one of the most common complications of asbestos exposure and it invariably causes death. Asbestos induced carcinoma of the lung is one of the most fatal of the common cancers.

80% of all people who contract bronchogenic carcinoma die within two years of diagnosis being made. It is not necessary for a worker to have asbestosis in order to attribute bronchogenic carcinoma to asbestos exposure. The attribution can be made if there has been sufficient exposure to asbestos dust.

Pleural Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma is a malignant tumour that develops in the pleura. The pleura is a very thin layer of tissue that wraps itself around the lung and lines the inside of the chest wall.

Symptoms include a rapid and substantial build up of fluid, pain and breathlessness.

Mesothelioma is almost always fatal. Any treatment whether it be surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy is unsuccessful in terms of long term care. Care can only be palliative

Peritoneal mesothelioma
The abdomen is lined with a similar type of tissue to the pleura. The tissue is called the peritoneum. The first sign of a peritoneal mesothelioma is usually swelling of the abdomen. Apart from a substantial build up of fluid the disease causes discomfort and / or pain and obvious interference with abdominal functions.

Asbestos induced carcinoma of other organs
Asbestos dust has been implicated in cases of renal cell carcinoma and also in cases of cancer of the larynx but is very difficult to prove at law. Medical and scientific evidence in the area of asbestos induced carcinoma of organs other than the lungs is still in a state of evolution.

Pleural plaques
Pleural plaques are the most common manifestation of past asbestos exposure. They are basically patches of thickened tissue on the surface of the lung.

Pleural plaques cause symptoms including pain in some cases but current medical and scientific knowledge does not support the proposition that pleural plaques predispose victims to other complications such as mesothelioma.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral which has been mined for generations. It consists of strong fibres with great durability, fire resistance and insulating properties. Asbestos fibres are 50 to 200 times thinner than a human hair and can float in the air like fine dust, invisible to the naked eye, being breathed into the lungs.  

Evidence that fibrotic lung disease caused by exposure to asbestos fibres was first noted in the 19th century and became more widely recognised within the first 30 years of the 20th century.

Asbestos was called the "magic mineral" because its unique chemical composition coupled with its physical properties made it so versatile. It was suitable for use in thousands of products ranging from floor tiles to fireproof doors, from pipe insulation to brake and clutch linings. Asbestos fibres can withstand fierce heat but are so soft and flexible that they can be spun and woven as easily as cotton. The term asbestos is derived from a Greek word meaning "inextinguishable, unquenchable or inconsumable". 

Major industrial use of asbestos goes way back to the 19th century. Its versatility combined with its cheapness and readily available stocks led to several thousand uses within industries.

Evidence that fibrotic lung disease caused by exposure to asbestos fibres was first noted in the 19th century and became more widely recognised within the first 30 years of the 20th century.

Asbestos was called the "magic mineral" because its unique chemical composition coupled with its physical properties made it so versatile. It was suitable for use in thousands of products ranging from floor tiles to fireproof doors, from pipe insulation to brake and clutch linings. Asbestos fibres can withstand fierce heat but are so soft and flexible that they can be spun and woven as easily as cotton. The term asbestos is derived from a Greek word meaning "inextinguishable, unquenchable or inconsumable".

CHRYSOTILE: Also known as white asbestos

 

 

 

 AMOSITE: Also known as brown asbestos

 

 

 

 CROCIDOLITE: Also known as blue asbestos