Asbestos diseases lawyers

Asbestos diseases

1800 305 568
If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, you may be entitled to claim compensation. Maurice Blackburn has a team of specialised asbestos lawyers who can help you through this claims process.

We have Queensland offices in Brisbane, Browns Plains, Caboolture, Cairns, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Mackay, Rockhampton, Strathpine, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, and Townsville. Contact us today for more information on making a personal injury claim.

Do you live in New Zealand?

If you reside in New Zealand and were exposed to asbestos in Australia, you may be able to make a claim under Australia law. Contact us to discuss your situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can suffer from asbestos exposure?

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 lawyers 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.

What is asbestos compensation?

Maurice Blackburn’s specialist asbestos lawyers are very experienced, and have helped thousands of people with successful claims in every state of Australia.

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.

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.

We have offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin and throughout Australia. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

What types of diseases qualify for asbestos compensation?

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.

What other toxic dusts can hurt me?

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.

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.


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.

What are the main types of asbestos-causing lung cancer?

There are two main types of asbestos-causing lung cancer:

  • Small cell lung cancer 
  • Non-small cell lung cancer

Small cell lung cancer

This type of cancer is strongly associated with cigarette smoking. Small cell lung cancers account for about 15 per cent of all lung cancers.

Non-small cell lung cancer

This type of cancer makes up the majority of diagnosed lung cancers. There are four types of non-small cell lung cancer:

  • squamous cell carcinoma (non-melanoma skin cancer)
  • large cell carcinoma (often occurring in the outer regions of the lungs and growing rapidly)
  • adenocarcinoma (most common form of non-small cell lung cancer, especially in women, which starts in the periphery of the lungs and can be present for a long time before it is detected)
  • bronchio-alveolar carcinoma (less common form of adenocarcinoma which arises in the small air sacs in the lungs).

Note: This information is general in nature. Please consult your doctor about your health.

Can I make a claim if I have smoked cigarettes?

While cigarette smoking is recognised as a primary cause of lung cancer, long-term exposure to asbestos is also a cause of lung cancer. People who smoke and have also been exposed to asbestos have a very high risk of developing the disease.

Even if you have smoked it is important to know that you can still bring a legal claim for compensation in relation to your asbestos exposure. It is often the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure that causes lung cancer. This means that even if smoking is a cause of your lung cancer, you may still have an asbestos claim.

Talk to a member of our dedicated asbestos practice to help with your claim, even if you're not sure where or when you were exposed to asbestos.

What products can contain asbestos?

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

When can I make a compensation claim?

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.

How do I know if I qualify to make a claim?

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.

What can I sue for under my common law rights?

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.

Who can I sue for asbestos compensation?

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.

Where does the asbestos compensation money come from?

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.

How much asbestos compensation will I get?

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. 

How much will legal action cost me?

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).

How do I make an asbestos compensation claim?

  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.

How long will legal action take?

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.

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