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Loss Recovered When Firm Fails to Provide Expert With Key Evidence

One good reason for taking advice from regulated professionals is that they are required to have insurance, so you have a route to compensation if they let you down. In one case, the widow of a man who died from asbestos-related lung cancer won six-figure compensation from a firm of solicitors that negligently handled her claim.

The man had worked as an insulation engineer for many years. Following his death, mineral fibre analysis of his lung tissue revealed high levels of asbestos. An inquest concluded that he had died as a result of industrial disease and his widow consulted the firm with a view to launching a damages claim against his former employers.

However, the claim was withdrawn after a medical expert who had been instructed by the firm expressed the view that the man's lung cancer was probably caused by cigarette smoking rather than asbestos exposure. Before reaching that conclusion, he had not been shown either the post-mortem report or the results of the mineral fibre analysis.

In upholding the widow's professional negligence claim against the firm, the High Court noted that it had, during the course of the trial, admitted that it had breached the duty of care it owed to her. The firm also conceded that, had the expert been provided with all the information that he should have been, he would have produced a favourable report and the widow's claim would have been pursued further.

The Court found that, had it not been for the firm's negligence, the widow would have stood a good chance of winning her case against her husband's former employers. A settlement of her claim would probably have been negotiated without the need for a trial. After deductions were made to reflect the risks of litigation and other factors, the firm was ordered to pay her £104,283 in damages, plus interest.

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