The dangers of asbestos: David’s story

David* was a fit and healthy man in his 60s living in Jakarta with his wife when he started noticing shortness of breath in 2021.

It was in the midst of the pandemic when David presented at the doctor in Jakarta, so they initially thought he had contracted Covid-19. After a series of tests that ruled out the virus, it was assumed David had a chest infection and he was put on a course of antibiotics.

But when he was not seeing any improvements after 10 days, David was referred to lung specialists where they performed more tests with vague diagnoses over several months.

It wasn’t until later in July 2021 when the life-changing confirmation was given: David was diagnosed with mesothelioma in the right pleural cavity.

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer of the membrane surrounding the lung (the pleural). The primary cause of this cancer is asbestos exposure and can be caused by even the briefest of exposures to asbestos dust and fibres. Mesothelioma is the rarest disease associated with asbestos exposure but is the most dangerous – it has no cure.

After this diagnosis, David came to Arnold Thomas & Becker seeking help to claim compensation.

David’s exposure to asbestos

During the 1980s, David began working with a construction company that undertook insurance work in relation to damage from floods, fire and storms in industrial, commercial and private homes.

David’s work involved reinstating and demolishing damaged buildings, including removing fibrous sheets and asbestos sheet roofing, as well as cement sheet products in various states of disrepair. While working on these, David and his team didn’t know whether any of the insulation or sheeting contained hazardous material. They were not provided any protective clothing and only wore only basic face masks, and they rarely wore gloves.

But it wasn’t uncommon during this time. Up until the mid-1980s, Australia had one of the highest rates of asbestos use per person in the world.

“Many companies knew about the dangers of asbestos and continued to put individuals at risk,” said Travis Fewster, lawyer representing David. “These companies can be sued for negligence in many cases.”

In December 2003 asbestos was finally banned in Australia, but it was too late for David and thousands of others like him.

Achieving compensation

Due to his prognosis, David had to act quickly to get his claim rolling. Despite the length of time since David worked with the company, it is still possible to lodge a claim for negligence – provided certain eligibility criteria are met.

“There is no amount of money that can ease the impact of this illness, but our aim is to lessen the financial burden for clients at an already stressful and expensive time,” Travis said.

Devastatingly, David passed away in December 2022. While nothing can ease the pain of losing a loved one, Travis and the team at Arnold Thomas & Becker achieved a settlement in excess of $600,000 for David’s family.

Have you been affected by asbestos?

The process for achieving compensation for asbestos-related diseases is tailored to be as quick and seamless as possible, with one of our empathetic and professional senior lawyers.

For more information, visit our Asbestos Claims page or if you think you might have a claim feel free to call us on 1300 333 300 for a confidential, no-obligations conversation.

*For our client’s anonymity, we have used a pseudonym