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Solicitor Advocate Frank Maguire, the senior partner in Thompsons Solicitors is one of Scotland's leading experts on Mesothelioma, the cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. He is also a prominent campaigner for the rights of victims of this, and other devastating industrial diseases. Here he outlines what can be done for victims and their families.

Inverclyde is famous for its shipbuilding industry. Unfortunately, one of the legacies of this proud industry is a population that has been very badly affected by exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos-related cancers like Mesothelioma can take 20 years and more before they can be diagnosed.

Many victims in Inverclyde think that because shipbuilding and industry in general, has gone into a massive decline they might not be able to make a claim because the company that exposed them to asbestos is no longer trading.

However claims can often by made against companies and their insurers by specialist lawyers who know who to sue.

It is essential, to consider your legal position and look into the possibility of investigating a claim sooner rather than later, because if you fail to do so then it could impact on the possibility of a successful claim.

One of the common defences by companies to asbestos claims is time-bar. Scots Law is very strict and is much stricter than in England.

Victims of asbestos have unfortunately lost out on compensation due to the strict time-bar rule and people should be urged to do something immediately so that this doesn't affect their potential claim.

However, even if you think your claim is out of time it might not be. Again you need specialist advice.

In addition to a civil claim in Scotland there might also be other claims against for example US Trusts which you may have read about in this newspaper in the last week.

I am looking along with American attorneys at claims against American companies that have been in administration and compensation might be able to be claimed by some Scottish victims of asbestos who were exposed through the products of these American companies.

You might think that the problems in your case are insurmountable but I take the view that all claims should be investigated as you never know what could be done to obtain some form of redress for the damage that has been done to you or a loved one.

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