Chemical Gas Inhalation Compensation Claims
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by toxic gas inhalation, we can help.
Claiming injury compensation with a solicitor
You can make a hazardous substances compensation claim with the help and support of a specialist solicitor.
Your solicitor will ask you about what happened, and they will collect evidence to prove that the exposure caused your injuries or illness. 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 hazardous substances exposure claim on a No Win No Fee basis.
In this article
Claiming chemical inhalation compensation
If you have been harmed after breathing in chemical fumes or gas, you may be entitled to claim compensation. Even if your symptoms developed years after the exposure, you have three years from the date you learned your symptoms could be linked to chemical exposure to start a claim.
Chemical exposure at work
Employees working in a very wide range of industries are at risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals.
Exposure commonly occurs as a result of the inhalation of gases knowingly or unknowingly given off in circumstances including manufacturing processes, cleaning products and waste processes.
Industrial disease claims and claims for hazardous chemical exposure frequently relate to cases of historic exposure. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimate that over 10,000 deaths each year can be linked to historic exposure.
An affected individual may not realise for some years that their illness relates to gas inhalation. The worker may not even have been aware of the exposure at all.
Expert legal advice and medical evidence can make a crucial difference to the success of these claims.
Causes of harmful fumes and gas in the workplace
To make a successful claim for chemical exposure, your solicitor will use a medical assessment, expert opinion and other evidence to identify what caused your illness or injury.
Causes of chemical and gas inhalation accidents in the workplace include:
- Spillages of a noxious substances by colleagues
- Undetected gas leaks from defective, old or damaged machinery (many toxic gases are odourless and colourless)
- Inadequate or unsuitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
If your ill health cannot be traced to a single event or cause, you may still be able to claim. An independent medical assessment will confirm if the cause of your condition is likely to be work-related chemical exposure more generally.
What chemical exposure symptoms can I claim for?
Chemical exposure can result in a wide range of symptoms that an affected worker can seek compensation for. Common symptoms include:
- Gases such as sulphur dioxide, ammonia and phosgene may cause eye, mouth, throat and nose irritation.
- Sulphuric acid and nitrogen oxide may cause irritation to the lungs with long continuous exposure permanently damaging the affected areas.
- Respiratory syndromes may be triggered where normal oxygen content of the air has been compromised by gases such as acetylene.
- Employees working in an environment that exposes them to inhalation of bauxite dust and asbestos may sustain serious lung damage.
- Skin allergy, dermatitis, chronic asthma and permanent disability of lungs have been observed by the inhalation of toluene, di-isocyanate (TDI) and amine hardeners.
- Liver, brain and kidney cells may be damaged by inhalation of certain chemicals, including carbon-tetrachloride, carbon monoxide, mercury, hydrogen, cadmium and cyanide.
You will receive compensation for the specific symptoms you have experienced, regardless of the chemical that caused your ill health.
Do I need a medical diagnosis to claim compensation?
Given the wide range of potential sources of exposure and of symptoms, specialist medical evidence is necessary to diagnose the specific condition in support of a claim.
The report will also be used to assess how much compensation you should receive, taking into account the impact, seriousness and duration of your symptoms.
Is my employer responsible for my injury?
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 sets out wide-ranging duties on employers, and they must protect the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees.
This includes safeguarding employees from exposure to substances hazardous to their health - or where this cannot be avoided, ensuring that exposure is managed in a way that is safe.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) lists around 400 chemicals and products requiring workplace exposure limits for hazardous substances within the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). The HSE does not include asbestos as this has separate regulations.
Can I still claim for chemical exposure if I had a pre-existing medical condition?
Yes. Employers should give workers to opportunity to report if they have an existing medical condition, allergy or susceptibility to a particular chemical.
Your employer must make special provision to ensure that you are safe from an avoidable risk of chemical or gas inhalation that could cause you additional harm or worsen your condition.
If you have been exposed (or may have been exposed) to a harmful chemical, your employer should carry out regular medical examinations to monitor any effects of exposure.
Effects of exposure may vary with different people, and different levels of exposure could lead to sigificantly different degrees of harm.
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022 came into force on 6 April 2022.
This legislation means that employers have an obligation to provide free Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all workers, including workers who are self-employed or on a zero-hours contract.
Under the previous 1992 regulations, employers were only required to provide PPE to employees with a formal employment contract.
Employers must train employees on chemical handling and inform them of the potential risks associated with each toxic compound.
Employees must be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as respirators, face covers, gloves and safety masks to avoid hazardous substance exposure.
If your employer committed a health and safety breach by failing to provide adequate training, PPE and a safe working environment, and you were harmed by exposure to a harmful chemical as a result, you are likely to have a strong claim.
Do I have an injury claim?
It should be possible to make an injury claim if:
- you were diagnosed in the last 3 years and;
- someone else, such as your employer, was to blame.
Even if these two points don't apply to you, you may still be able to make a claim.
To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to injury claims expert on 0800 376 1001.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.
Do I need a diagnosis before I can make a chemical gas inhalation claim?
If you have been injured and are awaiting the results, you should still seek legal advice as soon as possible. The sooner you start a chemical gas inhalation claim after an accident, the more likely your claim is to succeed.
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
Chemical gas inhalation compensation amounts
The following chemical gas inhalation payouts refer to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, Fifteenth Edition by the Judicial College.These tables are used by solicitors or by the courts as a starting point when calculating your compensation.
|Asbestos disease||Moderate||Asbestosis with low respiratory disability||£12,020 to £30,630|
|Asbestos disease||Serious||Lung cancer||£55,830 to £77,580|
|Asbestos disease||Severe||Asbestosis with significant respiratory disability||£30,630 to £84,380|
|Asbestos disease||Very Severe||Mesothelioma||£55,830 to £100,350|
|Asthma||Moderate||Bronchitis and wheezing||£15,300 to £20,950|
|Brain injury||Minor||Minimal injury with full or near-complete recovery||£1,760 to £10,180|
|Brain injury||Less severe||Good recovery with a return to work and normal social life||£12,210 to £34,330|
|Brain injury||Moderate||Resulting in a lower degree of dependence||£34,330 to £174,620|
|Brain injury||Serious||Resulting in serious disability and substantial dependence on others||£174,620 to £224,800|
|Brain injury||Severe||Very severe with the need for full-time nursing care||£224,800 to £322,060|
|Chest injury||Moderate||Some permanent tissue damage but no significant long-term lung problem||£10,040 to £14,320|
|Chest injury||Moderate||Injury from inhaling toxic fumes or smoke||£4,240 to £14,320|
|Chest injury||Serious||Damage to the chest and lungs causing some continuing disability||£24,950 to £43,710|
|Dermatitis||Minor||A rash or irritation to hands||£1,360 to £3,150|
|Dermatitis||Moderate||Affecting hands with recovery expected||£6,890 to £9,100|
|Dermatitis||Serious||Affecting hands with indefinite duration||£10,960 to £15,300|
|Injury to senses|
|Injury to senses||Serious||Loss of taste||£15,300 to £19,920|
|Injury to senses||Serious||Loss of smell||£19,920 to £26,230|
|Lung disease||Minor||Short-term aggravation of bronchitis or other chest infection||£1,760 to £14,420|
|Lung disease||Moderate||Non-permanent lung conditions||£4,240 to £14,420|
|Lung disease||Moderate||Slight breathlessness recovery in a few years||£8,480 to £24,950|
|Lung disease||Serious||Bronchitis and wheezing||£16,580 to £24,950|
|Lung disease||Serious||Emphysema||£43,670 to £55,830|
|Lung disease||Serious||Breathing difficulties needing use of an inhaler||£24,950 to £55,830|
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 I have to pay tax on my chemical gas inhalation compensation?
If you receive financial compensation following a chemical gas inhalation injury, specific legislation ensures that you do not have to pay tax on it. This is the case no matter whether the compensation is received as a lump sum or as staggered payments.
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 a chemical and gas inhalation claim take?
The length of time needed to settle a gas inhalation claim can vary considerably.
For instance, if your employer or responsible party accepts liability, a claim could be settled in a matter of weeks. However, if liability is denied a claim can take longer. On average a hazardous substance injury claim takes 6 to 9 months. To read more about how long your claim could take, see: How long will my claim take?
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.
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.
No win, no fee - the facts
With a no win, no fee agreement (referred to as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA') you can make an injury claim without needing to worry about upfront legal fees. If your injury claim is unsuccessful you won't have to pay any money to your solicitor.
No win, no fee guarantee
If you have been injured through no fault of your own, our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of claiming compensation for your injury. 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, after 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 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 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:
- 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.
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.