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Pleural thickening claims

Pleural thickening is a benign or non-cancerous condition that can be caused by asbestos exposure. Sufferers often experience chest pains and breathlessness, sometimes leading to serious conditions such as mesothelioma

You may be able to bring a pleural thickening claim if you were exposed to asbestos at work, in a public place, or some other capacity, and believe it caused the condition.  

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Pleural thickening FAQs

What is pleural thickening?

The pleura is a two-layer protective membrane surrounding the lungs and inside of the rib cage. If you inhale or ingest asbestos fibres, they can become lodged in the pleura causing thickening and scarring.

If the scarring becomes widespread and covers a large area, it can cause the pleura to thicken. This may make it difficult for the lungs to expand, which can cause breathlessness – known as diffuse pleural thickening .  Pleural thickening can occur in one lung (unilateral) or both lungs (bilateral).

Diffuse pleural thickening is a different condition to pleural plaques, which are isolated and discrete areas of thickening. Doctors believe that pleural plaques only rarely cause symptoms.

If you have been diagnosed with the condition, then you may be able to bring a pleural thickening claim against the individual or organisation responsible for your asbestos exposure. 

Our specialist team of personal injury solicitors will listen to you and advise on whether you have a claim and what to do

What causes pleural thickening?

The main cause of pleural thickening is asbestos exposure. The pleura is very sensitive and pleural thickening can be caused by low levels of asbestos exposure. 

It is a latent disease – meaning it may take many years after the asbestos exposure took place for the symptoms to emerge. Typically, this can be at least 10 or 15 years after exposure, but often much longer. 

Other causes of pleural thickening not caused by asbestos include:
  • Types of medication
  • Infections
  • Tuberculosis
  • Injuries from an accident
  • Radiotherapy
  • Some types of tumours

What are the symptoms of pleural thickening?

As your lungs struggle to inflate properly, pleural thickening can cause: 
 
  • Discomfort
  • Chest pains
  • Breathlessness

Symptoms may be more noticeable after physical exertion.  The level of disability can vary, from being mild or moderate to severe and debilitating. The condition can remain stable but sometimes breathlessness and disability get worse over time. 

To make a pleural thickening claim, you need a diagnosis from a doctor. If you experience any of the above symptoms and think you may be suffering from pleural thickening, arrange a doctor’s appointment first, before taking any further action. 

The diagnosis is usually made following a chest x-ray or CT scan. Treating doctors may arrange for follow-up appointments to check the condition does not progress. Sometimes, respiratory physiotherapy may be offered, depending on the circumstances.

What diseases are linked to pleural thickening?

Although the condition itself will not turn into another asbestos illness, individuals exposed to asbestos are at risk of developing other asbestos diseases as well as pleural thickening. You could go on to develop:
This can be a major source of anxiety to some individuals with pleural thickening and may cause psychological distress.

Who can make a claim?

If you are diagnosed with diffuse pleural thickening, you should seek legal advice about bringing a pleural thickening compensation claim.

Employers owe a duty of care to provide a safe working environment and may be legally at fault if they exposed you to asbestos.

If you have been exposed to asbestos and developed pleural thickening you may be able to bring a claim. Generally, those working in construction are more likely to be exposed to asbestos and develop the condition. These professions include:

  • Boilermakers
  • Builders
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Pipe fitters
  • Plumbers

How do I make a pleural thickening claim?

It is important to instruct specialist pleural thickening solicitors experienced in acting for asbestos sufferers. Arrange a free initial consultation with one of our team to discuss your claim.

We may need to gather supporting evidence, such as:

  • Medical records and documents
  • Witness statements from colleagues and medical professionals
  • Photographs of your working environment
  • Financial records

There are time limits for bringing claims for personal injury, such as pleural thickening. Therefore, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. 

What if I have pleural plaques?

If you have pleural plaques and you were exposed to asbestos in England or Wales, then you will not be entitled to bring a claim.

Insurance companies brought a test case to stop claims for pleural plaques and following a court decision in 2007, it is no longer possible to recover compensation for this condition. 
 
However, if you were exposed to asbestos in Scotland or Northern Ireland, then you may be entitled to make a claim. The court decision was over-ruled by legislation in these countries.

What are provisional damages?

If you have pleural thickening, then there is a risk you may develop another type of asbestos disease. Therefore, you can choose to settle your claim on a provisional basis.

This means you preserve the right to come back and apply for more compensation if you develop another asbestos related illness.

What does compensation cover?

If your claim is successful, you will recover compensation for the impact the illness has on your lifestyle and the physical effects it causes you. This is known as damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity. 

You may also be able to claim for any:

  • Out of pocket expenses – travel costs, accommodation, admin.
  • Loss of earnings – whether for a temporary or permanent period of time off work.
  • Care – including treatment, rehabilitation and therapy sessions, alongside equipment or home adaptations to support your recovery.

If you are no longer able to do DIY, gardening and other types of domestic tasks, then you can claim for loss of your services.

Levels of pleural thickening compensation awarded varies considerably depending on the facts of each particular case.

Am I entitled to benefits?

If you are diagnosed with pleural thickening then you may be entitled to state benefits. You are entitled to apply for a weekly payment called Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. 
 
If this is awarded, you might also be entitled to receive a lump sum payment from the government under the Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979
It is important to seek advice from expert pleural thickening solicitors regarding your potential entitlements.

 

Why choose Leigh Day?

Asbestos related claims can be complex. At Leigh Day, our experienced team of asbestos solicitors will care for you whilst fighting to obtain compensation to avoid you suffering financial hardship, on top of everything else you and your family are going through. 
We have offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Chesterfield and Birmingham to deal with asbestosis claims across the country – including the ability to visit you at home or in hospital if required.
 
We have been consistently rated in the top tier by the independent legal directories The Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners for our reputation as specialists with significant experience in this field.  
 
For more than 30 years, our firm has specialised in the more complex areas of personal injury law, focusing our efforts on achieving justice for our clients.
Client Story

Pleural thickening claim - Alan Jones

Client Story

Pleural thickening case study - Philip Catterall