Can you claim for pleural plaques?

Posted: 3rd Oct 18 10:00 AM

Pleural plaques are benign, localised areas of scar tissue found on the pleura – the lining of the lung – caused by exposure to asbestos.

Since 2007, it has not been possible for an individual who has been diagnosed with pleural plaques alone to claim civil compensation in either England or Wales. This decision was made by the House of Lords, now known as the Supreme Court of Justice.

Although pleural plaques indicate exposure to asbestos, there are no symptoms. Because of this, the courts do not recognise it as an injury or disability for which compensation is payable.

Why was compensation for pleural plaques available?

Before 2007, compensation for pleural plaques was available across the United Kingdom on the basis that the disease was a definitive indicator of asbestos being present in your body.

It was perceived, correctly, that an individual with pleural plaques was at a higher risk of developing another more serious asbestos-related disease.

Compensation was payable because individuals could suffer from the stress and anxiety of what could happen to them in the future, and worry how this could affect their loved ones and family.

Who can still claim compensation for pleural plaques?

After the 2007 decision by the House of Lords, the devolved parliaments in both Scotland and Northern Ireland changed their own legislation to allow for people diagnosed with pleural plaques to claim compensation.

In 2009, the Scottish parliament passed the Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) Act. Following this, Northern Ireland passed the Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) Act (Northern Ireland), both of which provide that asbestos-related pleural plaques constitute a personal injury, for which compensation can be claimed.

The insurance industry fought against this legislation, however having lost this fight, they now fully accept these claims and sufferers can obtain up to several thousand pounds of compensation for the anxiety and distress caused by being diagnosed as suffering from asbestos-related pleural plaques.

Pleural plaques and breathing problems

Because pleural plaques do not cause any symptoms, should you notice any changes to your respiratory health or breathing, you should bring these up with your doctor as soon as possible.

Any symptoms experienced with the knowledge of pleural plaques should be taken seriously, as they could indicate the development of another, more serious asbestos-related disease.

SWASG pleural plaques petition

The South Wales Asbestos Support Group have started a petition calling for the reinstatement of compensation for pleural plaques in England and Wales. Group co-ordinator, Eddie Gilbertson, know just what it’s like being diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease.

In 1999 he was diagnosed with pleural plaques. Eddie knows how important it is to receive piece of mind when you are told you have a harmful material in your body.

When you are told you have asbestos fibres in your lungs – no matter how serious the related condition – it’s frightening and isolating. What does is mean for your health and future, and the future of your family?

To sign the petition follow this link: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/reinstate-compensation-for-pleural-plaques-in-england-and-wales

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with pleural plaques and are worried you could have symptoms of another asbestos-related disease, or were exposed in either Scotland or Northern Ireland, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the National Asbestos Helpline. We’re here to help you with advice about your condition and can also advise on any benefits and/ or compensation you might be entitled to. Call us on Freephone 0800 043 6635, or email enquiries@nationalasbestos.co.uk.

Further reading

Doctors told to ditch jargon and use ‘plain English’ – which could aid asbestos sufferers

Asbestos in schools – does it pose a danger?

What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?