£5,500 awarded for welding-related illness

At the Court of Appeal, a man aged 32 at the date of his accident received £5,500 in general damages for welding-related illness. The Claimant was also awarded a large sum of compensation for lost earnings.

Background of the claim

Having suffered lead poisoning during the course of his employment as a leading hand in a foundry, the Claimant was no longer able to work in that capacity following his diagnosis. He was able to continue employment with the same employers, but as a security officer at much reduced earnings.

The Claimant later had to leave work because of the intense pain he was suffering, developing from symptoms and unpleasantness which he had for some time earlier.  Prior to leaving work, the Claimant had suffered abdominal pain, at the time when he was examined by the doctor he was in such pain that he was rolling around in bed.

Lead poisoning is an unusual disease to come before the Courts today, given the long-standing awareness of the condition and the regulations in place to protect workers.

There was no clear guide as to what would be an appropriate award, either for the pain and suffering which the plaintiff had experienced from this poisoning or for that which may be experienced in the future.

The Court decision

The matter came for trial when the Claimant was aged 34.

The judge found, as the evidence established, that the cause of the Claimant's trouble was lead poisoning, brought about by his work in circumstances for which the defendants were liable. The Defendants admitted liability.

At the original hearing the Judge awarded him £2,500 for the pain and suffering and loss of amenity and a further sum in respect of his loss of earnings. 

At the Court of Appeal, four senior Judges looked again at this figure and weighing up all the matters came to the conclusion that the sum of £2,500 was too low and increased the figure to £5,500.

Special damages

In addition to the award for general damages of £2.5k, the Claimant received a very substantial award for the fact that as a security guard his earnings would be considerably less over the rest of his working life than they would have been had he have continued as a leading hand in the foundry.