Hazardous substances compensation claims

This guide sets out what you need to know about making a hazardous substances compensation claim.

How much can I claim?

The most common occurrences of exposure to hazardous substances occur in the workplace, particularly in industries where toxic chemicals and fumes may be encountered if proper safety precautions are not followed.

Hazardous substance exposure is not just limited to the workplace, with claims for exposure to soil contaminants, pesticides and weed killers being successfully brought.

Hazardous substances at work

Every year, thousands of people experience pain and hardship as a result of contracting illnesses like lung disease, asthma, cancer, and dermatitis following exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace.

Employers have a legal responsibility for providing a safe working environment for employees. Specifically "The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations" (COSHH) are detailed regulations designed to protect employees from the danger of exposure to chemicals and other substances in the workplace.

If you employer has been negligent in their obligations and you have sustained and injury as a result, you may be entitled to claim compensation

Hazardous substances in the environment

Hazardous substances can also be found outside the workplace. There were 286 reported cases of Legionnaires' disease (caused by inhaling air containing tiny droplets of water infected with Legionella pneumophila or by drinking infected water) in 2013.

Another example are the 50-60 cases of Leptospirosis (known as Weil's disease) reported each year, where appropriate precautions to prevent water being infected by animals were not taken.

Toxic waste

Industrial disasters and illegal dumping of toxic waste can result in serious illness affecting members of the public.

Deliberate dumping of toxic waste rarely occurs in the UK. If a toxic substance has been released into the environment as a result of a company's negligence, however, and one or more people become ill as a result, it may be possible to make a claim for compensation.

Hazardous chemicals masthead

Do I have a hazardous substances claim?

If you were injured as the result of hazardous substances in the last three years and someone else was to blame, then we can help you make a compensation claim.

Do I have a claim?

Eligibility to claim and time limits for hazardous substance claims

To be eligible to make an injury compensation claim following exposure to a hazardous substance, you must:

  • have sustained an injury within the last three years as a result of an accident either at your place of work or elsewhere while working for your employer
  • be able to establish that another entity (e.g. a company, authority or individual) was legally responsible for the accident
  • be able to evidence that your injuries were sustained as a result of the exposure

How compensation can help you?

For the consequences of an accident or illness, financial compensation is often an inadequate substitute. Nevertheless, personal injury law is founded on the idea that compensation will aim to put the injured party back in the position they would have been in if the accident or illness had never happened.

A settlement or Court award cannot alter what has happened, but it should have a positive impact on your present circumstances and future recovery.

Injuries resulting from exposure to a hazardous substance can have significant consequences for the injured person and their dependants. Quittance's panel of specialist solicitors have years of experience securing compensation awards:

  • for medical treatment and ongoing care costs
  • for other expenses such as damage to personal possessions and travel costs
  • for any pain and suffering and loss of amenity
  • for lost earnings while you recover
  • for future loss of earnings if you are unable to return to work

How Can Quittance help you?

Solicitors acknowledge how critical your recovery is. Considering the circumstances of your accident or illness, they will adjust their approach to give your claim the best chance of success.

Many people considering a claim would like to discuss their options before going ahead. They are available to discuss your options in a no-obligation consultation.

Guiding injured parties to a successful outcome by negotiating compensation, Quittance's solicitors have acted for clients injured in a broad set of circumstances. Court awards and settlements have been negotiated for injuries including:

  • Air pollution
  • Arsenic poisoning
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Contaminated soil
  • E-Coli poisoning
  • Industrial dermatitis
  • Legionnaires' disease
  • Lead poisoning
  • Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) exposure
  • Perchlorate exposure
  • Pesticide poisoning
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) poisoning
  • PVC exposure
  • Radiation sickness
  • Teflon exposure
  • Trichloroethylene poisoning

So you can focus on recovery, Quittance's solicitors take care of the negotiation and legal work.

Claimants are generally relieved to learn that injury claims rarely go to Court.

How much compensation can I claim for a hazardous substance injury?

How much can I claim?

'General damages' awards are set by the Judicial College (formerly known as the 'Judicial Studies Board) who publish recommended compensation guidelines that are usually adopted in Court and referred to by most insurers and solicitors.

These guidelines take into account the nature and severity of an injury and recommended compensation amounts are presented in the form of minimum and maximum figures for any given injury.

In addition to general damages it may also be possible to claim for 'special damages' which compensate any other losses to the claimant such as those incurred for medical treatment and care, loss of earnings, damage to personal property and any other expenses.

Our panel of solicitors would be happy to give you a better idea of what your claim could be worth - call us on 0800 612 7456 or get a free Compensation Claim Report (CCR).

How long will it take to get compensation?

Some PI claims can be relatively straightforward and financial compensation is agreed in a relatively short time frame. Claims involving more complex or severe injuries will most likely take a longer amount of time to resolve. Certain key factors can only delay the process - for example if the other party does not accept responsibility or if there is an apportionment of blame between the claimant and the defendant.

As there is no formula, it can be virtually impossible to forecast the length of time it will take to reach a settlement . Often it can actually benefit the injured party to reject an initial offer to settle as this approach can result in a larger compensation settlement.

You can get a better estimate of how long your claim should take by speaking to a hazardous substance injury claims specialist on free phone 0800 612 7456 or by obtaining a detailed Compensation Report.

How likely is your claim to succeed?

If the negligent party, e.g. your employer, has admitted liability then the chances of your compensation claim being successful are very good.

However, if liability is contested or perhaps only accepted in part, achieving a settlement will be more difficult. Personal injury solicitors are used to working on contentious matters so the fact that the defendant has not admitted liability should not deter you from making a claim.

A solicitor will help collate and assess all of the evidence at hand and advise you on constructing the strongest possible case.

How does No Win, No Fee work with hazardous substance compensation claims?

A No Win, No Fee agreement, also known as a CFA or "Conditional Fee Agreement", comprises an important part of almost all injury claims.

A CFA is essentially a contract between you and your lawyer.

It details the work executed by the solicitor handling your case and a success fee that will be deducted from the total compensation when the case is successful.

Get complete peace of mind with the knowledge that there is nothing whatsoever to pay at the outset and you will never be out of pocket. There are no hidden costs using a Quittance personal injury solicitor.

Get a free compensation claims report

A Compensation Claim Report (CCR) is a free, detailed and bespoke report, tailored to your circumstances.

A CCR gives you a much more detailed understanding of:

  • the amount of compensation you are likely to receive
  • how long you will have to wait before you receive compensation
  • the probability of your claim being successful

The CCR was developed to give potential claimants a deeper insight than is typically offered by claims calculators and websites which often only provide basic information. A CCR is intended to help potential claimants decide if they want to pursue a claim.

Frequently asked questions and hazardous substance claims advice

We recognise that potential claimants will probably have questions when evaluating whether to start a compensation claim. For general answers to questions relating to PI claims work, e.g. "Can a claim be made on behalf of another person ", why not go to our general FAQ section

Meet our team

The national panel of Quittance solicitors handle all types of industrial disease claims, from relatively minor claims to catastrophic injury. Our lawyers are chosen on the basis of their specialist expertise and their track record in winning claims.

Click here to meet more of the team.

Kevin Walker Serious Injury Panel Solicitor
Tim Fieldhouse Industrial Disease Panel Solicitor
Shahida Chaudery Complex Injury Claims Panel Solicitor
Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert