Mercury Poisoning Compensation Claims
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by mercury 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
Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is found in water, soil and air. Almost everyone will come into contact with some level of mercury, often through dental fillings, the consumption of shellfish and routine vaccination. Low doses of mercury are not considered to be a significant health threat.
However, some people are exposed to excess levels of mercury either through regular (chronic) low-level exposure or acute exposure that occurs in a single event. An example of acute exposure would be an industrial accident that results in the spillage of mercury. Inhaled or ingested, mercury can cause breathing difficulties, eye irritation and, possibly, serious damage to the nervous and immune systems.
Industrial exposure to mercury falls within the category of hazardous substances compensation claims. Anyone who has suffered mercury poisoning after being exposed to the metal at work may be eligible make a claim against their employer.
Who is at risk of contracting a mercury-related illness?
Mercury poisoning typically occurs when a person inhales mercury in vapour form or when mercury in compound form makes contact with the skin. As such, workers in industries that use mercury regularly may have a greater risk of developing a mercury-related illnesses. Workers employed in the production of chlorine gas, batteries, fungicides, biocides, thermometers and dental fillings are particularly at risk.
This list is not exhaustive. Anyone exposed to mercury, including members of the public who come into contact with mercury after a spillage, may be eligible to make a compensation claim.
What are the health problems associated with mercury poisoning?
Exposure to mercury can lead to a number of short and long-term health problems including:
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Respiratory problems
- Coughing blood
- Inflammation of the mouth and gums
- Mood swings
- Muscle spasms
- Kidney damage
- Damage to the nervous system.
How severe the poisoning is usually will depend on the dose and the method of exposure (inhalation, ingestion or dermal contact). As a preliminary step, the injury lawyer will arrange an independent medical examination to assess whether mercury is present in the body and to establish the extent of the poisoning. The medical expert will also recommend any treatment that is needed such as drug therapy.
The medical report is used as a basis for the compensation claim.
Is my employer liable?
Any employer who uses mercury is required to follow the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). COSHH places a legal duty on employers to minimise the impact mercury and other toxic chemicals might have on a worker's health.
Specifically, an employer must:
- Assess the health risks that come from mercury and use alternatives wherever possible
- Monitor a worker's exposure to mercury
- Keep exposure within strict workplace exposure limits defined as 0.02mg/m3 averaged over an 8 hour working day
- Take measures to limit exposure for example by issuing personal protective equipment such as masks and skin protection
- Store and dispose of mercury properly to prevent spillages
- Train employees in safe use and handling of the compound.
An employer who fails in their duty to protect staff from mercury exposure may be liable for any illness that arises as a result.
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
Under a no win, no fee agreement, your solicitor agrees that you will have no legal fees to pay if your claim is not successful.
Our no win, no fee guarantee
If you have been injured and someone else was to blame (even partially), 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, 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 at all. 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.
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.