PCB Exposure Compensation Claims
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a PCB exposure injury, 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
In 1986, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) use was banned in the UK for risks to health and the environment. Despite the ban, people have since suffered exposure - most notably in the workplace.
If you are affected by a PCB-related health condition, perhaps resulting from exposure at work, you may be able to make an industrial disease claim.
Where are PCBs found?
PCBs are a group of man-made chemicals with stable, fire resistant properties. They comprise of 209 different chlorinated compounds. From the 1930s they were widely used as coolants, insulating materials and lubricants in electrical equipment.
Despite no longer being manufactured, PCBs can still be found in products dating before the ban. This includes paints, rubber products and plastics. In addition, they can be emitted from old electrical devices such as: refrigerators; televisions; transformers; switchgear; capacitors; and in starter units of fluorescent lights and fractional horsepower motors.
Who is at risk of exposure?
Because PCBs can leak into the environment, anyone is potentially at risk. However, claims relating to PCBs are typically attributed to exposure in the workplace.
Old equipment in plants, factories and industrial sites may still emit PCBs in the manufacturing process. In addition, workers involved in the removal, repair or disposal of PCB containing equipment or material are also susceptible to contamination.
PCBs usually enter the body through contact with the skin. They can also be ingested through breathing in fumes or through swallowing. Inadequate protective equipment is frequently cited as a cause of PCB exposure, and may be evidence of an employer's negligence.
Work-related PCB conditions
People who have been exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls and gone on to make claims have been affected by a number of health conditions. These include:
- Chloracne - which produces pustules, blackheads and cysts
- Liver damage
- Encotrine disorders - of the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, adrenal gland
- Inhibited immune system
- Nervous system disorders
- Workplace-related cancer
If a person believes they have been affected, it is recommended they seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity. A solicitor can help arrange a medical examination to confirm diagnosis. A doctor can also assess whether PCB exposure is a likely cause by asking questions relating to employment history.
Where workplace exposure to PCB is probable, a person has three years from the diagnosis to make a claim.
What legislation is in place to protect workers?
There are two main pieces of legislation which guide employer actions in relation to PCB exposure in the workplace.
- The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 requires employers protect the health, safety and welfare of their workers, as is reasonably practical. This includes ensuring employees are suitably trained to use safety equipment and the correct working practices.
- The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations COSHH (2002) places more specific duties on an employer in relation to PCB. This includes:
- Identifying PCB in the workplace - often equipment is labelled but not always
- Ensuring exposure is either prevented or controlled
- Assessing the risks to health and adopting suitable measures to control them
- Monitoring exposure Informing employees of the risks of PCBs and safe working practices
Where an employer has breached their legal duties in preventing exposure to PCB, resulting in a connected health condition, a claim can be made.
Common workplace PCB claims
Examples of employer breaches resulting in PCB exposure include a failure to:
- provide suitable personal protective equipment such as impervious boilersuits or overalls, gloves, overshoes, chemical resistant goggles or a respirator
- provide adequate training on the risks of PCB or effectively ensure adherence to recommended working practices
- carry out sufficient equipment checks resulting in a preventable leakage of PCB into the work environment
- appropriately deal with a PCB leakage or damaged PCB equipment or arrange a specialist contractor
In order to prove these types of negligent breaches occurred, relevant evidence is required. Alongside medical reports, this can include company health and safety records, witness statements or other registered cases of PCB in the same workplace.
What if a claim relates to a former employer?
Because of the history of PCB manufacture and usage, PCB exposure claims often relate to past employment. In these cases, a solicitor can help trace a former employers insurers using the Employers Liability Tracing Office (ELTO) and records held at Companies House. Even if an employer has ceased trading or a business has been taken over, the insurers can still be traced.
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.
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 PCB exposure claim take?
How long it can take to process a PCB exposure claim can vary significantly.
For example, if your employer or responsible party accepts liability, a claim might be concluded in a few weeks. If liability is denied, a compensation claim can take considerably longer. Typically, a hazardous substance injury claim will take 6 to 9 months. See more: 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, no risk
No win, no fee takes the risk out of making an injury claim. If your claim is unsuccessful, you won't have to pay your solicitor any legal fees.
Our no win, no fee guarantee
If you have been injured and it was not your fault, we can help you make a no win, no fee injury compensation 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, once your claim is settled. 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 will not have to pay any fees. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
Why do most solicitors charge 25%?
25% success fees are charged by most law firms as this is the maximum fee that the Ministry of Justice allows them to charge. pcb exposure claims can take a solicitor hundreds of hours work and they receive nothing if the case is lost. The success fee will be subject to your individual circumstances and the actual fee may vary. Call us for more information.
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.