If mercury poisoning has set you back, we'll help you move forward
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by mercury poisoning, we can help. See also:
You can make a hazardous substances compensation claim with the help and support of a specialist solicitor.
In this article
You are not alone
Although the use of mercury has generally reduced over the year, exposure from breathing contaminated air, eating contaminated food or water, or by skin contact, is still possible in certain circumstances (gov.uk).
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 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.
Do I qualify for mercury poisoning compensation?
If you've been injured or made ill in the last three years and it wasn't your fault, then you will be entitled to claim compensation for mercury poisoning.
Find out online if you can claim with our injury claim calculator. Alternatively, you can speak to a claims advisor on 0800 376 1001 and find out if you have a claim in minutes.
How long do I have to start a mercury poisoning claim?
For most injury claims, you have up to 3 years from the date of your injury to start the claims process.
You may still be able to claim compensation if you were injured by another's negligence and you only discovered it later. Generally, the clock starts ticking from the date you were diagnosed or became aware of your injury.
How much compensation can I claim for a mercury poisoning?
The compensation you can claim for your illness or health condition will depend on:
- the severity of your illness, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
Your solicitor will consider the many ways your illness has impacted your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
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 December 2023
Compensation Calculator v3.04
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 because of your accident. In addition to paying for loss of earnings, including lost overtime, holiday pay, benefits and pension contributions, special damages can cover any care costs and medical procedures you need, such as chelation therapy, regular blood tests and psychological support.
Employers' liability claims claims
Work-related illness claims are also known as employers' liability claims. Click on the icons below for more information:
How we can help you with your injury claim
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.
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About the author
With over 20 years' experience in the law, Jenny has spent the last decade specialising in personal injury, with a particular focus on industrial disease cases.