£850 awarded for smoke inhalation after a work fire | Case Study

Following a hearing at Liverpool County Court, a 45 year-old man received compensation of £850 for smoke inhalation, sore throat and chest tightness caused by a fire at work.

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The background of the case

The claimant was employed by the defendant's as a factory production line operative. As a result of a fire in a skip at his workplace, the claimant was exposed to harmful levels of smoke and fumes.

The claimant was asked by his managers to help in putting out the fire. He was not provided with any form of breathing apparatus and was exposed to dense black smoke for about a quarter of an hour. The claimant sustained problems with his eyes which were watering, his throat which became sore and he suffered a tightness in his chest.

Diagnosis and allegation

The diagnosis immediately after the incident was that he had sustained impaired ventilatory function. By the time the claimant visited his local occupational health department he was reportedly coughing up black phlegm.

Within a matter of days, the irritation to his eyes and the chest tightness resolved. However, the claimant continued to suffer from throat pain and coughing. These symptoms subsided within 2 - 3 weeks after the fire.

During the recovery period, the claimant was carrying a substantial excess of fluid which needed to be relieved at regular intervals in order to alleviate his discomfort.

The claimant was able to continue working throughout his recovery but was not able to enjoy many of his favourite hobbies, namely scuba-diving which had been arranged on the weekend following the accident.

The matter eventually progressed to a court hearing.

The decision

The claimant's solicitor successfully established the defendant's liability.

The award constituted general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity.

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