Occupational Asthma Compensation Claims
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by occupational asthma, we can help.
If your injuries were caused by your employer or a co-worker, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
Claiming injury compensation with a solicitor
You can make a work accident compensation claim with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.
Your solicitor will ask you about what happened, and they will collect evidence to prove what caused your injuries. Your solicitor will also work out how much money you can claim, based on your injuries, lost earnings and other expenses. By law, your employer will have insurance to cover the cost of injury claims, and your compensation will be paid out of this policy.
We can help you make a work accident claim on a No Win No Fee basis.
In this article
According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics, hundreds of new cases of occupational asthma are seen by chest physicians evey year. Undiagnosed figures for wider work-related asthma cases (asthma caused or made worse by work) are estimated to be more than 10 times higher.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition and causes a narrowing of the bronchial walls. Commonly triggered by dust, pollen and exercise, asthma is also the subject of compensation claims for workplace-related illness following exposure to allergens or chemicals found in the work environment.
Do I have an injury claim?
It should be possible to make an injury claim if you were injured:
- in the last 3 years and;
- someone else was to blame.
Even if these two points don't apply to you, you may still be able to make a claim.
To find out for sure, speak to a legally trained adviser on 0800 376 1001.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.
What if I was diagnosed months after the occupational asthma?
Depending on how your occupational asthma happened, the three-year time limit may only start from the date you are diagnosed and learn of the cause of your injury. In some cases, this can be months or years after the cause occurred.
What if I can't prove who caused the occupational asthma?
Your solicitor will work on your behalf to assess your occupational asthma claim and gather evidence. They will identify the party responsible for your accident.
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.
General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.
What can I claim for after an injury? (see list)
Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:
- Lost earnings (including future earnings)
- Medical treatment costs
- Travel costs
- Costs of care
- Costs of adapting your home or car
What is the average injury compensation for an injury claim?
The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.
However, the money you would receive following an injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your injury compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life and your ability to work, and on the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
Will a work injury claim affect my benefits?
It may. The receipt of a compensation award could affect the calculation of any means-tested benefits. One approach to protecting your benefits, would be to set up a "Personal Injury Trust" or "PI Trust". Read more: Should I set up a personal injury trust?
Calculate my injury compensation
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an injury can be complicated.
Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.
Find out what your injury claim could be worth now:
How long does an occupational asthma claim take?
The time needed to get compensation for an occupational asthma can vary considerably.
For instance, if your employer does not contest the claim, it can settle in a matter of weeks. However, if liability is denied a compensation claim can take substantially longer. Normally a work accident claim will take 6 to 9 months. For more information on how long your claim could take, read more:
How else can a solicitor help me?
Your solicitor will handle your injury claim from the initial FREE case evaluation, through to the financial settlement.
Your solicitor will work with other specialists to provide caring and sensitive support and help you with:
- Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
- Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
- Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
- Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.
Industries with the most asthma-related claims
Occupational asthma can occur in a range of industries. However, the HSE report that the manufacturing industry has the highest incidence of occupational asthma (3 cases per 100,000 per year). Manufacturers of motor vehicles, food products and basic metals are identified as having the most cases.
What substances cause occupational asthma?
Isocyanates and flour/grain are recognised as the agents responsible for the highest proportion of new cases of occupational asthma and exposure to these substances is frequently cited in claims.
Isocyanates are widely used in the manufacture of foams, fibres and coatings such as paints and varnishes. Vehicle paint technicians have the highest incidence rate. For flour/grain exposure, bakers are most commonly affected.
Other common agents known to cause occupational asthma include:
- Wood dusts
- Stainless steel welding
- Laboratory animals
- Hardening agents
- Cleaning products
- Cutting oils and coolants
Diagnosing occupational asthma
The severity of asthma symptoms varies from person to person. In many cases it is controllable, whilst in others more persistent problems including a permanent narrowing of the bronchial walls can occur.
Asthma symptoms can gradually or suddenly get worse leading to an asthma attack.
Asthma caused by work factors falls into two main categories:
- Allergic occupational asthma - this is seen in the majority of cases and typically occurs a period of time after exposure
- Irritant-induced occupational asthma - typically occurs a few hours following exposure to high levels of gas, fume and vapour
Diagnosis is not always straightforward, particularly in allergic occupational asthma. This is because the symptoms - which include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness - are similar to a range of lung diseases.
The injury claim medical report
A medical report confirming the asthma diagnosis will be a key piece of evidence in support of a claim. This report will be arranged by the claimant's solicitor.
An independent doctor will ask questions regarding work and medical history, recent symptoms and family history of asthma or allergies. The doctor may also carry out lung function tests.
If asthma is diagnosed and considered to be the result of workplace exposure, a solicitor can advise on the next steps.
The law regarding occupational asthma
Occupational asthma is a preventable condition, and the responsibility to take all reasonable steps to prevent it lies with the employer.
Under the Health and Safety and Work etc. Act 1974, employers have a legal duty to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their employees. This includes carrying out a risk assessment of the workplace and putting in 'reasonable' measures to protect staff from any dangers.
More specifically, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002 (COSHH) requires employers to manage exposure to dangerous substances where they cannot be removed or substituted - which includes chemicals and allergens.
If an employer fails to do any of the following, and a person develops occupational asthma as a result, this may amount to negligence. The employer must:
- Minimise the emission, release and spread of substances known to cause or potentially cause asthma
- Ensure adequate air filtration systems are installed and maintained
- Provide suitable personal protective equipment (PPE), such as breathing apparatus
- Provide staff training on the risks and how to effectively apply the controls
- Continually review the risks and update procedures as required
A solicitor can advise on what evidence would be needed to prove negligence. This evidence will usually include medical reports and an employer's health and safety records.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. Solicitors settle the vast majority of claims out of court.
Less than 5% of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.
Cases that do ultimately go to court are decided by a judge or magistrate, not a jury.
Even if the claim does go to court, it is very unlikely you will have to attend.
How does no win, no fee work?
No win, no fee removes the risk from making an injury claim. If you don't win any compensation, you won't have to pay your solicitor any legal fees.
No win, no fee guarantee
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is zero financial risk in making an injury claim, even if you don't win your claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim
What do I pay if I win my injury claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, once your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. Your solicitor will agree a success fee with you before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my injury claim?
If your injury claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees . Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
Can I get Legal Aid?
Legal aid is no longer available when making a personal injury claim, but a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win, No Fee) can reduce the financial risks of making a claim.
Is there a penalty if I withdraw?
Under a No Win, No Fee Agreement (CFA), fees may apply if a claimant refuses to cooperate, or abandons their claim after the legal work has started, or if the claim is fraudulent.
How we can help you
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning work accident claims.
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open:
- 8am to 9pm weekdays
- 9am to 6pm on Saturday
- 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday
Call us for FREE advice on 0800 376 1001, or arrange a call back from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:
- Find out
if you can claim
- No obligation
to start a claim
Can I claim for someone else?
Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.
If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.
The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.
Can I claim if I feel I was partly responsible for my accident?
Yes. You may still be able to claim compensation even if your actions may have contributed to the accident.
However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.
How long do I have to make an injury claim?
In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the injury to make an injury claim.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your injury claim becomes 'statute barred'.
Can I claim for an injury after 3 years?
Possibly. The general rule for adults is that a claim must be started within three years.
However, the three-year countdown starts on the day you learned of your injury or illness. This will usually be the date of the accident, but could be the date your doctor gave you a diagnosis.
There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 376 1001 to find out if you are still able to claim injury compensation.
In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether an injury claim will be taken on by a solicitor.
Will I have to visit a solicitor's office to start a claim?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. Personal injury claims are handled by email, post and phone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
I need the money now - what are my options?
If you are unable to work and have bills to pay, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is an advance on your compensation payment. Any amount you receive in interim payments would be deducted from your final compensation payment.
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor
About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.