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Asbestos litigation

 
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View video testimonials of our past clients

William Moore Carolyn Keating Karen Rock
William Moore
A sufferer of mesothelioma
Carolyn Keating
Whose father suffered mesothelioma
Karen Rock
Whose husband suffered mesothelioma
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Read letters of recommendation from past clients

 
Alison Lorraine
Whose father suffered
mesothelioma
Pat Gray
Whose husband suffered
lung cancer

 

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Our locations

Stuart Lawyers has offices in Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane. We also see clients in Canberra, Hobart and in regional areas.

Due to the nature of asbestos conditions, we often see clients at their home or if they are hospitalised, in hospital.

Our experience

Alex Stuart, the firm’s principal, is one of Australia’s most experienced lawyers practicing in asbestos litigation. For more than 20 years, he has successfully acted on behalf of hundreds of sufferers of mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and asbestos related pleural disease living in every State and Territory of Australia.

Our Court experience for asbestos victims has been in the following forums:

  • Dust Diseases Tribunal of New South Wales
  • District Court of South Australia
  • Queensland WorkCover
  • Supreme Court of Victoria
  • High Court of Australia in Canberra
  • Supreme Court of New South Wales
  • New South Wales Court of Appeal
  • Workers’ Compensation Tribunal of South Australia

Past clients have included:

  • Building workers
  • Carpenters
  • Home renovators
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Plasterers
  • Asbestos laggers
  • Employees of asbestos manufacturers and suppliers
  • Office workers
  • Maintenance workers
  • Ship builders
  • Nurses
  • Mechanics
  • Truck drivers
  • Engineers
  • Defence force personnel
  • Merchant seamen
  • Railway workers
  • Power stations workers and
  • Refinery workers

Over the years we have built up an extensive database of materials that assists us pursue the rights of asbestos victims. We often find that new clients have worked for the same employer or on the same site as past clients, and therefore information and experience gained from past cases provides valuable assistance to our new clients.

Alex Stuart has been involved in a number of significant asbestos cases over the past decade, including several matters that have been before the High Court of Australia, and one decision referred to with approval by the English House of Lords. Links to a number of our significant Court decisions are as follows:

Our reputation

Our reputation and experience has resulted in referrals of work from former clients; thoracic/respiratory specialists; oncologists; asbestos victims groups; GP’s; union members; barristers; other firms of solicitors; and former staff members. We believe this demonstrates the high regard a large cross section of the community has for our firm in this highly specialised area, and their recognition of our dedication to those suffering asbestos conditions. We invite you to read the comments made by some of our past clients in the “Client Testimonials” tab.

Alex Stuart has also been invited on numerous occasions to lecture other lawyers on asbestos litigation.

Our commitment to asbestos victims

In addition to providing legal support to asbestos victims, we have shown a real commitment to such victims by providing other support such as:
  • Providing financial support to asbestos victims groups over many years;
  • Consulting State and Federal members of parliament about victims rights;
  • Drafting submissions in respect to proposed and current legislation for the benefit of asbestos victims; and
  • Attending meetings with union groups to discuss current concerns, such as home renovators being exposed to asbestos.

Choosing an asbestos lawyer

It is important to choose the right lawyer to represent you in your asbestos claim.

When you are in the process of choosing an asbestos lawyer, you may wish to ask the lawyers you speak to the following questions:

  1. If I instruct your firm to act on my behalf, will it be you or someone else who undertakes the day to day work on my matter? If it is you, how much experience do you personally have in asbestos claims? If it is not you, how much experience does that other person personally have in asbestos claims?

    If you instruct Stuart Lawyers to act on your behalf, it will be Alex Stuart himself who undertakes the work on your behalf. We will not act on your behalf on the basis that your case will be “managed” or “supervised” by one lawyer, with the day to day work being carried out by a less experienced lawyer. You may consider it to be important that the specific lawyer who will carry out the day to day work on your claim has the relevant experience, as opposed to the firm that this lawyer works for having such experience.

  2. How many asbestos claims have you personally had the carriage of?

    For more than 20 years, Alex Stuart has personally had the carriage of hundreds of claims involving those suffering mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and asbestos related pleural disease living in every State and Territory of Australia. You may consider it important that the specific lawyer who will carry out the day to day work on your claim has personally conducted hundreds of previous claims as opposed to the firm that the lawyer works for.

  3. How many asbestos claims that you personally have had the conduct of have gone to Judgment?

    Most asbestos claims settle without the need for them to be determined by a Judge (which is known as a “Judgment”). However, if matters cannot be settled, they generally need to be determined by a Judge. Alex Stuart has personally had the conduct of more than 20 asbestos claims that have been determined by a Judge, along with having the conduct of several hundred asbestos claims that have settled. You may consider that it is important your asbestos lawyer has experience in asbestos matters that not only settle, but also asbestos matters that have been determined by the Court.

First conference obligation free

Consulting a firm of solicitors for the first time can be perceived as a daunting experience. Often one of the concerns is whether or not the potential client will be “locked in” or obliged to commit to the firm. It is important to know that such an obligation will not arise with Stuart Lawyers until the potential client enters into a written costs agreement with our firm. This therefore allows a potential client to speak with us over the telephone or see us in person and make their own assessment on a no obligation basis as to whether they would like our firm to act on their behalf.

About asbestos

Asbestos is a general term for a group of naturally occurring minerals. Asbestos minerals can be separated into strong, very fine fibres that are durable, flexible and heat resistant. Because of these qualities, asbestos has been used in many industrial and consumer products, for example, in asbestos cement sheeting (or more commonly known as “fibro”) and also in insulation products.

Asbestos presents a hazard if fibres of a respirable size become airborne and are then inhaled.

Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Australians have been exposed to asbestos at some time throughout their life. As a result of this exposure, people can and have contracted asbestos conditions.

Workers such as carpenters, laggers, power station workers, waterside workers, labourers, those who were in the Australian Navy and those employed in the asbestos industries represent some of the groups that have been most affected by the dangerous effects of asbestos. However, cases of mesothelioma also occur in persons exposed to very small quantities of asbestos, including home renovators and office workers.

The dangers of asbestos have been known for many years. Numerous studies and papers have been published from the early 1900’s onwards in respect of its dangers. Unfortunately, the dangers of asbestos were ignored for many years and as a result, there are increasing numbers of people developing asbestos conditions throughout Australia.

Asbestos conditions

There are a number of asbestos conditions one can contract following exposure to asbestos. They include the following:

Malignant mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a malignant tumour which in most cases develops in the lining of the lung, which is known as the pleura. Sometimes, mesothelioma can develop in the lining of the abdomen, which is known as the peritoneum. Cases of mesothelioma have occurred following brief exposure to asbestos. Further, mesothelioma takes many years to develop following exposure to asbestos, often 30-40 years after such exposure. Mesothelioma is generally diagnosed by way of biopsy.

Lung cancer

Unlike mesothelioma, to relate lung cancer to asbestos exposure, one needs to have been exposed to significant quantities of asbestos. Even if one has been a smoker, as long as that person has had sufficient asbestos exposure throughout their working life, a relationship between the lung cancer and the asbestos exposure may well be established. Lung cancer is generally diagnosed by way of biopsy.

Asbestosis

Asbestosis is not a cancer, rather it is scarring of lung tissue. In most cases, it results in shortness of breath. Further, it is often a slowly progressive disease. Asbestosis is often diagnosed by way of chest x-ray or chest CT Scan. Generally, one needs to have been exposed to at least a moderate amount of asbestos to develop asbestosis.

Asbestos Related Pleural Disease (ARPD)

Asbestos Related Pleural Disease (ARPD) is not a cancer, rather it is a benign condition that has some pleural involvement. This may be in the form of pleural plaques; pleural thickening and/or a benign pleural effusion. ARPD often causes breathlessness and can also result in chest pain. One can develop ARPD as a result of inhaling small quantities of asbestos. ARPD is generally diagnosed by way x-ray/CT scan.

What to do if you are diagnosed with an asbestos condition

Medical Support

If you are diagnosed with a benign asbestos condition such as asbestosis or asbestos related pleural disease, your local doctor will probably refer you to a respiratory or thoracic specialist for an opinion. The respiratory/thoracic specialist may then arrange for you to undergo tests such as radiological examinations and lung function tests to determine the level of your incapacity caused by the asbestos condition.

If you are diagnosed with a malignant condition such as malignant mesothelioma or lung cancer, it is important you discuss with your treating specialist all of the latest treatment options. This would include surgical and chemotherapy options.

Legal Support

The majority of those suffering asbestos conditions such as mesothelioma, asbestos related lung cancer, asbestosis and asbestos related pleural disease are entitled to make a claim for lump sum damages or compensation.

Time is a critical factor in most claims brought in Australia and in particular, when a claimant has a terminal condition. In most claims, unless the claimant commences proceedings prior to his or her death, a large component of the damages will not survive for the benefit of the claimant’s estate.

Asbestos Support Groups

There are numerous support groups throughout Australia for those who suffer asbestos conditions. To obtain details of the support groups in your State or Territory, please contact us.

The process of making a claim

General

Most people in Australia who suffer either malignant asbestos conditions or benign asbestos conditions (that produce a disability) are entitled to make a claim for lump sum compensation or damages.

Who to make the claim against

A claim may be made against your former employers; the occupiers of the sites where you worked; and/or the manufacturers & suppliers of the asbestos products that you handled or came in contact with in the past. Even if your exposure occurred many years ago, your employer has gone out of business, you had many employers, you were self employed, or your exposure to asbestos did not occur in the workplace, you may still be entitled to make a claim.

Steps to take

The first and most important step is for you to make contact with us as soon as possible after you or your loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos condition. Time is a critical factor not only for those suffering terminal conditions, but also because many States and Territories in Australia have time limits which require claimants to pursue their rights within a certain period.

After you have contacted us and provided some preliminary information, it is likely we will be able to provide you with an outline of your legal rights.

If you have a viable claim and wish for us to pursue your rights, it is likely we will confer with you at one of our offices; at your home; or in hospital if you have been hospitalised.

Legal Costs

The first consultation is always free. Following this, if you have a viable claim, it is likely we will undertake work on your behalf on a “no win, no fee” cost arrangement. Different conditions will apply to this arrangement depending on the particular State or Territory in which the action is taken, and the type of litigation commenced. We will provide specific advice to you after we know your individual circumstances.