MEK Poisoning Compensation Claims
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by MEK poisoning, 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
Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) is a highly flammable liquid which is used as a solvent in the paint, plastics, rubber and textile industries. MEK is also found in some printing inks, paint removers and varnishes. The chemical is not considered to be a significant threat to health.
However, exposure to high levels of MEK may cause a number of allergic reactions such as occupational dermatitis. Exposure usually occurs when MEK is spilled and the fumes are inhaled. MEK may also enter the body through contaminated food and water or through direct contact with the skin.
The majority of MEK poisoning cases occur in workers who are exposed to Methyl Ethyl Ketone in the workplace without the proper protective equipment. As such, they fall within the category of hazardous substances compensation claims against an employer.
What are the symptoms of MEK poisoning?
Inhaling or ingesting MEK, also known as butanone-2 or methyl acetone, can give rise to symptoms of various severity depending on the extent of the exposure. These include:
- Breathing problems
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lack of coordination
- Irritation of the eye, nose, mouth or throat
- Lung damage
Combining MEK with Methyl Butyl Ketone, n-hexane or other chemicals in the manufacturing process may increase the effect that MEK has on health. Exposure to these chemical combinations may cause irreversible nerve damage - a symptom that is not associated with exposure to MEK alone.
As a preliminary step, the injury lawyer will arrange an independent medical examination to assess whether MEK is present in the body and to establish the level of damage. The medical expert will recommend any treatment that is needed and give a prognosis for recovery. The medical report is used as a basis for negotiating the compensation 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.
What if I was diagnosed months, or even years after exposure?
Depending on how your mek poisoning arose, the three-year time limit will usually start from the date you are diagnosed and learn of the cause of your injury. In some cases, this can be months or years after the cause occurred.
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
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.
Can I claim for an existing mek poisoning that has got worse?
Yes, it is possible to pursue a claim in the event that a pre-existing medical condition, illness or injury is made worse or aggravated by an accident or someone else's negligence.
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 MEK poisoning claim take?
The length of time needed to secure compensation for MEK poisoning can vary significantly.
If your employer or responsible party accepts liability, a claim can settle in a matter of weeks. If the employer denies liability, a claim can take significantly longer. On average a hazardous substance injury claim takes 6 to 9 months. 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.
Hazardous Substances Legislation
Employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment for their employees. Whenever harmful chemicals are present, the employer must take action to minimise the effect they might have on a worker's health.
The primary piece of legislation is the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). Under COSHH, an employer must:
- Ensure that workplaces where MEK is used have adequate ventilation and extraction equipment
- Issue personal protective clothing and equipment such as chemical safety goggles, skin protection and breathing apparatus where appropriate
- Store chemicals properly to prevent spillages and chemical poisoning
- Keep the concentration of MEK in the air below the maximum workplace exposure limit specified by the Health and Safety Executive from time to time
- Offer health checks to workers who may be at risk of MEK poisoning.
An employer who fails in their duty to protect workers from MEK exposure may be liable for any illnesses that arise as a result. An employer almost always will be negligent if they have breached a specific health and safety rule such as those laid down by COSHH.
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, no risk
With a no win, no fee agreement, your solicitor agrees that you will have no legal fees to pay if you do not winn your claim .
No win, no fee promise
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is no financial risk in making an injury claim - even if you don't win your 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, only after your compensation is awarded. 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 . Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
What is Legal Aid available for?
In 2000, the government abolished the right to legal aid in personal injury and industrial disease cases. Depending on an individual's circumstances, Legal Aid may be available for discrimination cases, criminal cases, family mediation and court or tribunal representation.
How do personal injury solicitors get paid?
If your mek poisoning claim is successful, the defendant, or their insurer, will pay the compensation and your solicitors fees.
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.
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor
About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.