Diesel Exhaust Fumes Cancer Compensation Claims

If you have been affected by cancer, we can help.

If your injuries were caused by someone else's actions or negligence, you may be entitled to claim compensation.

Claiming injury compensation with a solicitor

You can make a 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.

We can help you make a personal injury compensation claim on a No Win No Fee basis.

In this article


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified diesel fumes as a 'definite carcinogen', putting it in the highest category of cancer causing agents. Evidence shows that diesel fumes directly cause lung cancer, and also possibly bladder cancer.

People who have been diagnosed with these cancers should consider whether they have been exposed to diesel fumes. Many professions, such as agriculture, construction, energy extraction, mining, rail, shipping, transport/logistics, tunnelling, vehicle repair and warehousing are all considered high risk.

If you were exposed to diesel fumes at work, and exposure likely caused your cancer, you may be able to claim compensation.

How do diesel exhaust fumes cause cancer?

According to Cancer Research UK's carcinogen expert, Professor David Philips, when diesel burns inside an engine it releases two potentially cancer-causing agents: microscopic soot particles and chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

The soot can get lodged in the lungs causing mutation and inflammation, whilst the PAHs which coat them can damage DNA cells in the lungs.

Although this tells us how, the exact conditions, such as exposure time or which agent contributes most to getting cancer, are not known. What is known, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), is that people regularly exposed to diesel exhaust fumes at work can be up to 40% more likely to develop lung cancer.

Who is legally responsible?

Responsibility for hazardous substances in the workplace, such as diesel fumes, usually falls on the company or individual employer. Legally, employers have a duty to reasonably protect their workers from harm, so if an employee suffers through a failing in this respect the employee can look to them for liability.

A range of legislation and guidelines influence this, including the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and The Control of Hazardous Substances to Health Regulations 2002.

The Control of Hazardous Substances to Health Regulations 2002 is intended to protect workers from dangerous substances such as diesel fumes. To follow these, employers are required to:

  • Identify dangerous substances and carry out a risk assessment
  • Implement measures to prevent or minimise exposure
  • Instruct and train staff on the risks as well as the specified safety practices
  • Maintain all safety equipment and continually monitor risks
  • Ensure first aid and emergency facilities are provided

In the case of diesel fumes, employers (at least since diesel fumes were classified as a ‘probable' or ‘definite' cause) should be taking the risk of cancer into account in their planning. This includes employing adequate measures to prevent or minimise exposure, such as ensuring adequate ventilation/extraction apparatus is in place and providing staff with sufficient personal protective equipment like breathing masks.

If these measures were not taken, it is possible that the diesel fumes present could have caused the cancer. Even when such measures were taken, if they were not done sufficiently, for example, the protective equipment was faulty or ill-fitting, the employer's negligent actions could still have contributed to the cancer.

Making a case for diesel fume cancer compensation

If a person has become ill with cancer as a result of exposure to diesel fumes, whether at work or otherwise, they deserve the best in medical care and treatment. They also deserve to be reimbursed for any financial losses they have incurred as a result, such as being unable to work for an extended period.

Ultimately, an employer is responsible, but only if it can be proven that they did not uphold their responsibilities to protect the employee from harm. In order to prove this, evidence is likely needed to demonstrate the role the employer played in the exposure.

Finding this may be difficult, as cancer can take years to develop. The claim may have to rely on witnesses and company records, with more recent medical reports being used to show prognosis.

This is why seeking help from legal professionals can be extremely worthwhile. The team at Quittance specialise in personal injury claims and can assist in the process.

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.

Read more:

Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

No win, no fee - the facts

No win, no fee means that your solicitor will not charge you anything at all if your injury claim is unsuccessful. 'No win, no fee' is also known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA'.

No win, no fee promise

If you have been injured and someone else was to blame (even partially), our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of making an injury compensation 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%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee 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 whatsoever. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

Why do most solicitors charge 25%?

25% success fees are charged by most law firms as this is the maximum fee that the Ministry of Justice allows them to charge. diesel exhaust fumes cancer claims can take a solicitor hundreds of hours work and they receive nothing if the case is lost. The success fee will be subject to your individual circumstances and the actual fee may vary. Call us for more information.

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 injury 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:

Call me back
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Injury FAQ's

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.

Read more:

Claiming on behalf of another person.

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.

Read more:

Claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

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.

If you were injured as a child, you do have up until your 21st birthday to make a claim.

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.

Calculate your claim limitation date

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.

Read more:

Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

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.

Read more:

How to I get an interim compensation payment?

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher