Asbestos and Dust Disease Claims FAQs

Can I make an asbestos and dust disease claim?
If you have been injured or diagnosed with a condition resulting from exposure to asbestos or some sort of dust, in Queensland or elsewhere, you may be entitled to compensation.
This could have happened at work or elsewhere.  If it happened at work, all employers in Australia must hold workers’ compensation insurance or be licensed as a self-insurer.  Most manufacturers, importers and distributors of asbestos also hold insurance or have set up schemes to handle claims and make compensation payments. We can advise you in detail about your right to claim and your prospects of success.
Your claim will be handled by the insurer and it is the insurer who will pay any damages.
In Queensland, there are two separate stages to a workers’ compensation claim – the statutory claim phase and the common law claim for damages.  Significant lump sum payments can be available for asbestos and dust disease claims.  MurphySchmidt can assist with both stages of the claim.  Different rules apply in other states and overseas – we can advise you about that.
We can advise you about making a claim in the NSW Dust Diseases Tribunal.
We can also assist you if you have a Comcare claim.
Your family may also be able to make a separate claim.  We can advise you about this.
How do I make an asbestos and dust disease claim?
Generally, if the condition arises from your work, an application for compensation needs to be made to the insurer for statutory benefits. You may have done this already.  If not, we can assist.
If you are entitled to pursue a common law claim for damages, a detailed notice of claim needs to be given to the insurer.  Strict time limits apply – you need to get expert advice now about the time limits which apply to you.
What can I claim in an asbestos and dust disease claim?
It is impossible even to estimate the amount of damages you might recover in an asbestos or dust diesease claim without knowing a lot more about you and your injuries.  Damages you might recover include:
  • Medical and other out of pocket expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Retraining expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Care and assistance
  • Aids and equipment
  • Future treatment expenses
We can assist you to access ongoing rehabilitation.
You may also be entitled to make separate claims for additional insurance benefits such as income protection and total and permanent disablement benefits.  You will find more information about these claims under Income Protection and Disablement claims. 
Do I need a lawyer to make an asbestos and dust disease claim?
No, you can handle the claim yourself.
However, insurers have extensive experience in defending asbestos and dust disease claims and will often instruct lawyers to act on their behalf.  Insurers cannot provide you with independent advice.  You may find yourself at a disadvantage if you do not have legal representation.
Will the insurer pay my legal costs in an asbestos and dust disease claim?
Generally speaking, the insurer will not pay your legal costs.  In the very limited cases where costs can be recovered, legislation restricts the amount an insurer has to contribute towards your costs – we will provide detailed advice about this. 
If the insurer is required to pay something towards your costs, it will not cover your entire costs.  The difference will be paid from your settlement or judgment monies.  We will discuss this with you in detail when we give you our initial Costs Agreement and before you instruct us to act on your behalf.
How long will an asbestos and dust disease claim take?
This is impossible to say without knowing a lot more about you and your claim.  Some relevant factors include:
  • the severity and extent of your injuries – it is vital that your injuries be stable and stationary before any settlement negotiations commence – in Queensland, any damages you receive will be in full and final settlement of your claim.
  • whether the insurer disputes liability for your claim.
  • how and when you were exposed to asbestos or dust.
Will I need to go to court for an asbestos and dust disease claim?
Queensland legislation requires that the claimant and the insurer attempt to reach a settlement before court proceedings are issued. Claims are very rarely decided by a judge.  Even if proceedings are issued in court, claims frequently settle before reaching trial.
How am I charged and how much do I have to pay to make an asbestos and dust disease claim?
If we think you have reasonable prospects of success, we will usually agree to act on a speculative basis.  That means we will not charge for our professional fees unless and until your claim is successfully finalised.
We do require payment of any costs or outlays (eg. medico-legal reports from a specialist) incurred on your behalf, even if your claim is not successful.  We will not incur significant outlays without first discussing it with you.  An estimate of outlays will be provided in our Costs Agreement. 
Our costs will be reasonable – we will discuss them with you in detail before you instruct us to act on your behalf and will enter into a Costs Agreement with you.  We strongly recommend you seek independent legal advice about the Costs Agreement before you sign it.