Yvonne Power, now 49, always harbored an aversion to housework, and this may have saved her life. In an interview for The Guardian, she recalls turning headstands in the garden while her older sister, Evelyn, helped scrubbed their father’s overalls. It was the early 1960’s and their father, John, worked as a foreman in Cowley, Oxford cutting asbestos boards for ceiling tiles.
Yvonne’s father eventually died of the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma, as did many men working in environments that caused them to be exposed to the hazardous material. However, mesothelioma also took the lives of his wife Barbra and his daughter Evelyn. Because Barbra and Evelyn never worked or even visited John’s asbestos-latent workplace, experts believe that the mother and daughter contracted the disease by washing John’s overalls, which were covered in asbestos particles.
Common forms of mesothelioma treatment for all patients suffering from mesothelioma include radiation, chemotherapy, immunology, and surgery, although none have these treatments have presented life-saving results. And while the medical options for those suffering from secondary exposure are the same as those for individuals exposed on the job site, the legal options greatly differ.
Collecting damages can be difficult for anyone, especially since some of the careless companies that permitted the hazardous environments no longer exist. However, being a woman that was exposed to asbestos in the home makes it even harder.
"Because the wife was not employed by the company, you are generally looking for the public liability insurer, rather than the employer liability insurer," explains Sally Moore, a representative of Leigh Da Insurance Group. "That is a significant difference, because public liability is not compulsory and never has been."
Due to the rarity of contracting what is considered to be an “industrial disease” in the home, proof of exposure is both necessary and elusive. A witness is required, preferably the husband who brought the dust home. Sadly, many of the women whose husbands worked in the asbestos-exposing environments of the 1960’s no longer have living husbands to serve as their witnesses, and thus no claims unless they can secure another witness.
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