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Long-term exposure to diesel fumes can lead to serious health conditions, including cancer. Workers affected by such exposure may be compensated for their pain and suffering, health deterioration and associated losses or expenses.

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.

You can make a No Win, No Fee compensation claim with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.

You are not alone

An estimated 19,000 new lung disease cases are reported every year. It is impossible to say to what extent diesel exhaust particulates contribute to this statistic, but diesel exhaust fumes have been linked with lung cancer (hse.gov.uk).

Diesel fumes were classified as a 'definite carcinogen' in 2012 (source: iarc.who.int), putting it in the highest category of cancer causing agents. The 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.

If you need information on lung cancer symptoms and treatment, visit: lung cancer (nhs.uk).

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.

Am I entitled to make a diesel exhaust fumes cancer claim?

In general, you can claim compensation if you were hurt:

  • in the last 3 years, and;
  • another person or organisation was to blame, and;
  • they owed you duty of care.

Use our injury claim calculator to find out if you can claim. Or you can call 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor. Find out in minutes if you have a claim.

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

An injury claim will usually need to be made within 3 years of the date or your accident or injury.

If you were injured due to someone else's negligence but didn't realise it at the time, you may have longer to make a claim. Typically, you have three years from the date you either received a diagnosis or became aware of the negligence (known as the 'date of knowledge') to start your claim.

How much compensation can I claim for a diesel exhaust fumes cancer?

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.

Diesel exhaust fumes cancer compensation calculator

Get an accurate compensation estimate (including for multiple injuries), confirm your legal position, and check if you have a No Win, No Fee claim.

Updated June 2024 Compensation Calculator v3.04

Average diesel exhaust fumes cancer general damages compensation

The following diesel exhaust fumes cancer payouts refer to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, Sixteenth Edition by the Judicial College (oup.com).

These tables are used by solicitors or by the courts as a starting point when calculating your compensation.

Please note: these average figures represent general damages only, and do not include any element of special damages (e.g. lost wages).

Example Amount
Lung disease
Slight breathlessness recovery in a few years £9,670 to £18,910
Breathing difficulties needing use of an inhaler £28,460 to £49,850
Life-threatening disease affecting a young person £91,520 to £123,560
Lung cancer causing severe pain and impairment £63,660 to £88,480

General damages

General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).

Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College (judiciary.uk) and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.

How is compensation calculated if I have multiple injuries?

Special damages

Special damages is compensation awarded to cover any financial losses and expenses you incur as a result of your illness or negligent medical treatment. These damages aim to put you back in the financial position you would have been in, had your injury not occurred.

Special damages will also cover your medical treatment expenses, that might include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy.

Read more:

A complete list of recoverable losses in a personal injury claim

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 (COSHH).

The COSHH 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 you or a loved one has developed cancer due to exposure to diesel fumes, whether in the workplace or elsewhere, you deserve the best medical care and compensation for any financial losses, such as loss of earnings.

Proving employer responsibility is key to a claim, as it must be shown that they failed to protect you from harm. Gathering evidence to demonstrate this link can be challenging, given the long latency period of cancer. However, our team can help navigate this complex process by accessing company records, witness testimonies, and recent medical reports to build a strong case and support your claim for the compensation you need.

Employers' liability claims claims

Work-related illness claims are also known as employers' liability claims. Click on the icons below for more information:

No win, no fee diesel exhaust fumes cancer compensation claims

With no win, no fee, you can claim diesel exhaust fumes cancer compensation without financial risk. If your claim isn't successful, you pay nothing. If you win, you only pay a pre-agreed percentage of your compensation.

Find out more about how no win, no fee claims work

Get expert advice now

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Source: (reviewed: 12/12/2023)

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher