Diesel Exhaust Fumes Cancer Compensation Claims

If you have been affected by cancer we can help.

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered cancer and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.

In our guide to claiming diesel exhaust fumes cancer compensation:


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.

No win, no fee - the facts

No win, no fee means that your solicitor will not charge you anything at all if your diesel exhaust fumes cancer 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 a diesel exhaust fumes cancer injury compensation claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

What do I pay if I win my diesel exhaust fumes cancer 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 diesel exhaust fumes cancer claim?

If your diesel exhaust fumes cancer 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.

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 can Quittance help?

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, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 376 1001 or arrange a callback:

Call me back
  • Tick icon FREE consultation
  • Tick icon Find out if you can claim
  • Tick icon No obligation to start a claim

Diesel exhaust fumes cancer 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 about claiming on behalf of another person.

Can I claim if I was partly responsible for an accident?

You may still be able to claim compensation even if you contributed to your accident or to your injuries.

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 about claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

How long do I have to make a diesel exhaust fumes cancer claim?

In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the diesel exhaust fumes cancer to make an injury claim.

The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your diesel exhaust fumes cancer claim becomes 'statute barred'.

Can I claim for a diesel exhaust fumes cancer 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 diesel exhaust fumes cancer compensation.

In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether a diesel exhaust fumes cancer claim will be taken on by a solicitor.

Calculate your claim limitation date

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.

Only a very small percentage (approx. 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 held in front of a judge, not a jury.

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

Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?

No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.

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?

Can I get an early compensation payment?

If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher