Frequently asked questions

Have a question about Asbetsos diseases? See some frequently asked questions below.


It’s usually trade-based workers who are affected by asbestos diseases, such as builders, asbestos insulation workers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, sheet metal workers, motor mechanics, as well as firemen, wharfies and navy personnel.

There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Not everyone who is exposed develops an asbestos-related disease. Those who develop an asbestos disease can take 20-60 years after exposure to get sick.

In recent years, Maurice Blackburn’s asbestos compensation solicitors have seen an increase in the number of people exposed to asbestos dust through home-based domestic duties, such as laundry and home renovations. These exposure cases are known as the Third Wave.

If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, your first priority will be your health. But financial compensation can relieve the burden both you and your family will be feeling. Maurice Blackburn’s specialist asbestos lawyers are very experienced, and have helped thousands of people with successful claims in every state of Australia, such as Eric King, for whom we achieved the largest ever payout in Australia for an asbestos compensation claim.

We work with asbestos disease sufferers and their families to minimise their inconvenience and stress, and offer a simple and thorough approach. We will visit you in hospital or at home, without charge or obligation, to discuss your entitlements and the claims process.

We have access to the National Asbestos Register which includes information from other people that may prove useful to your case and strengthen your claim. Our lawyers can also assist you and your family with other legal matters, such as related superannuation and insurance claims, renegotiating loan payments, work responsibilities and other care directives, including Wills.

Asbestos laws do vary from state to state, so if you were exposed to asbestos in a different state to the one you’re currently living in, we can advise you of the best location to lodge your compensation claim without any need for you to travel interstate.

It’s a good idea to document any asbestos exposure in case you do develop an asbestos-related disease later in life. Maurice Blackburn’s free National Asbestos Register is a convenient way to do this.

Recording the details of your asbestos exposure, regardless of how recent or long ago it was, can help any future claims for compensation you may need to make. Registration is free, and obligation-free as well.

National Asbestos Register

The main diseases caused by asbestos are:

  • pleural mesothelioma
  • lung cancer
  • asbestosis
  • asbestosis-related pleural diseases and pleural plaques

Other asbestos and dust diseases include:

  • peritoneal mesothelioma (mesothelioma of the lining of the stomach)
  • asbestos induced carcinoma
  • silicosis
  • progressive massive fibrosis, and
  • occupational asthma.

If you are suffering from any asbestos or toxic dust disease or illness, our specialist asbestos lawyers can help you claim compensation.

We can also connect you with support groups. We provide financial and in-kind support to the Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma Support Group in the ACT. In Victoria we support Asbestoswise and Gippsland Asbestos Related Disease Support.

We can make sure all of your legal affairs are in order, and all avenues for compensation are covered, and that includes related claims connected to your superannuation accounts and life insurance policies.

Other toxic dusts

Asbestos isn’t the only type of toxic dust that can cause respiratory and other diseases; other toxic substances include silica, lead and mercury. We have extensive expertise in helping people suffering from such diseases pursue compensation claims. Contact our Asbestos and dust diseases practice for help with your claim.


Exposure to silica dust can cause silicosis, which is the scarring and hardening of the lungs. Workers and labourers in the construction and excavation industries can be exposed to silica dust when using jack hammers to excavate large quantities of sandstone.

Like asbestos diseases, silicosis can take 15 to 30 years to develop. Progressive massive fibrosis is an extreme form of silicosis where scarring continues to get worse and ultimately takes over the entire lungs. A rare complication is silica-caused kidney failure, there are proven medical links between silica dust inhalation and the adverse and sometimes terminal effects on a person’s kidneys.

Asbestos-related diseases mainly affect the respiratory and gastro-intestinal systems. They include:

  • mesothelioma
  • lung cancer
  • asbestosis, and
  • asbestos-related pleural diseases and pleural plaques.

More than 3,000 products used in Australia are known to have contained asbestos. Most of these products were used in the building industry.

James Hardie

Type: Flat, profiled and grained sheets

  • Hardiflex (external)
  • Hardiflex (striated)
  • Versilux (pre 1977)
  • Villaboard (post 1977)
  • Highline
  • Shadowline
  • Coverline
  • Log Cabin
  • Weatherboard

Type: Coloured and patterned sheets

  • Hardigrain (Colours: mountain ash, blackwood wood grain)
  • Colorbord (plain colours)
  • Tilux (patterned)
  • Hardipanel (stucco, fiesta, sierra)
  • Hardiglaze

Type: Corrugated sheets

  • Super 6
  • Standard corrugated

Type: Corrugated sheets

  • Compressed AC (6, 9, 12, 18 & 24 mm)

Type: Underlay

  • Ceramic tile underlay
  • Vinyl & cork underlay

Type: Weatherboarding

  • Hardiplank smooth
  • Hardiplank wood grain
  • Hardiplank cross cut
  • Hardiplank rusticated
  • Hardiplank old style
  • Hardiplank weatherboard


Type: Flat, profiled and grained sheets

  • Duraflex
  • Durabestos Moulded Wall panelling
  • Wunderflex
  • Versilux
  • Durawall N
  • Durawall S
  • Rib Wall
  • Log Cabin
  • Weatherboard
  • Villaboard
  • Versilux

Type: Coloured and patterned sheets

  • Duradec

Type: Corrugated sheets

  • Old style corrugated
  • New deep corrugated
  • Standard corrugated

Type: Weatherboarding

  • Wunderplank smooth

Asbestos common law compensation claims must be lodged in court during the lifetime of the asbestos disease sufferer. Some people may also be eligible for statutory benefits. Different statutory benefit schemes operate in different states.

Talk to our asbestos experts to find out about your asbestos claim rights. Because some asbestos conditions progress very quickly, it is essential to get quality legal advice early.

If you have mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, asbestos-related pleural disease, pleural plaques or gastrointestinal cancers, you can make a claim even if:

  • you are no longer employed where the exposure occurred
  • you were exposed to asbestos more than 60 years ago
  • your employer at the time has since gone out of business
  • you were exposed to asbestos by many employers
  • you were self-employed or a contractor at the time of exposure
  • your exposure to asbestos was not at work
  • you were exposed to asbestos during home renovations
  • your exposure to asbestos was only brief
  • you are not sure where you were exposed to asbestos, or
  • you also smoke cigarettes.

Laws vary in each state, but your common law compensation claim may include damages for:

  • pain and suffering
  • shortened life expectancy
  • past and future medical expenses
  • past and future care and assistance
  • past loss of wages, and
  • loss of future earning capacity if you were working at the time of your diagnosis.

In some states such as NSW and South Australia, you may also be able to sue for past and future domestic expenses or care for a child/dependant that you can no longer provide due to your asbestos-related disease.

It's important to talk to your asbestos lawyer about your employment history and all your other exposures to asbestos. Your asbestos lawyer will then be able to tell you who you can sue. They may include:

  • former employers, even if they have gone out of business
  • manufacturers of products containing asbestos, such as James Hardie or Wunderlich, and
  • occupiers of sites where asbestos was present.

If you were self-employed, you may still be able to sue manufacturers and occupiers of sites where you worked.

When you sue for damages resulting from your exposure to asbestos, their workers' compensation or public liability insurance company will usually have to pay for, or contribute to, your compensation.

Some large manufacturers such as James Hardie have been required by law to set aside a compensation fund for these claims, and you may be eligible to sue them even if you were exposed to asbestos from their products somewhere other than at work.

We can't tell how much money you will get without knowing your specific situation. If you have good evidence to support your claim, you are likely to receive compensation of between tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Your first consultation with one of our asbestos lawyers is free and without obligation. If you decide to proceed and we believe you have a viable claim, we will act on a 'no win, no fee'  basis. This means that we cover the costs of making the claim and only recover our costs when your claim is successfully settled. If we lose, you won't be charged our professional fees or disbursements (which are expenses for things such as doctors’ reports and court filing fees).

  1. Contact Maurice Blackburn to discuss your disease, even if you’re not sure where or when you were exposed to asbestos
  2. We’ll investigate your asbestos exposure, even if the place where you were exposed is now out of business
  3. We’ll submit your claim & fight for you
  4. We’ll help you settle out of court in the vast majority of cases, or go to court if the settlement offer isn’t fair.

Claims for malignant asbestos-related diseases (like mesothelioma and lung cancer) usually take between three and six months. Some claims can be resolved in a matter of weeks where there is medical evidence to demonstrate this is warranted. Claims for non-malignant asbestos disease (like asbestosis) and toxic dust diseases usually take between 12 and 18 months to resolve.