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Insight

Mesothelioma deaths still rising

New data released by the Office for National Statistics shows that the number of deaths where mesothelioma was the underlying cause have risen to 2356 deaths for England and Wales in 2014, up from 2261 in 2013. The death rate continues to remain high with an average 4.4 deaths per 100,000 people between 2010 and 2014. The areas with the highest rates are Barrow in Furness with a rate of 14.3 deaths per 100,000 people during the same timespan, with South Tyneside and North Tyneside having rates of 11.1 and 10.9 deaths per 100,000 respectively.

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lung  or peritoneum. Mesothelioma  is caused by exposure to asbestos and can take 40 years or more to develop after exposure.  The disease can be contracted following light exposure to asbestos dust. Most sufferers have been exposed to asbestos in their employment. Occupations commonly associated with mesothelioma include laggers, pipe fitters, electrical and telephone engineers and carpenters but members of other trades and professions, such as teachers, doctors and nurses,  are more and more often developing the disease following exposure arising from the fabric of the workplace. Wives who washed their husband's contaminated overalls  are also common sufferers of mesothelioma.

In England the law provides that where several employers exposed an employee to asbestos, if only one employer can be sued (eg. because all the others are insolvent), then that employer is liable for the full amount of compensation awarded for the contraction of mesothelioma. If no insurer or employer can be found then there may be other remedies, such as a claim to the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) or for State Benefits.

Andrew Morgan, a partner in our Mesothelioma Claims department, says: "It is deeply saddening that these figures continue to rise. The prognosis for people diagnosed with mesothelioma is not good, and we urge anyone who may have this disease to get in touch quickly so we can track down old employers and get them the legal result they deserve".

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