A Guide to Claiming Trichloroethylene (TCE) Exposure Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by TCE exposure we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered TCE exposure and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a non-flammable liquid chlorinated hydrocarbon used as an industrial solvent.
A known toxin, it is also an irritant and probable carcinogen and has been the cause of numerous industrial disease claims.
Employers have a duty to protect workers from the risks associated with TCE or trike. This includes keeping exposure within the recommended guidelines using preventative controls and measures.
If excessive or repeated exposure has occurred as a result of an employer's negligence, resulting in illness, it may be possible to make a claim for compensation.
Do I have a trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure claim?
It should be possible to make a trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure claim if:
- you were diagnosed in the last three 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 612 7456.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.
You can also find out if you have a claim with our Online Claim Checker.
TCE exposure in the workplace
Exposure to trichloroethylene can be environmental, notably in areas where it is manufactured. However, workers involved in the manufacture or use of trichloroethylene, particularly in the degreasing industry, are often exposed to much higher levels.
TCE is sold under various brand names and is mainly used in metal cleaning, vapour degreasing and paint stripping. It is also used as an extraction agent and as a chemical intermediate. Industries using trike include: car manufacturing, aerospace, production of PVC and textile treatments.
Despite the risks associated with exposure, unsafe practices in TCE usage continue.
What are the risks of trike?
Trichloroethylene is a central nervous system depressant. It is rapidly absorbed through ingestion, inhalation and dermal contact. Once absorbed it distributes throughout the body via the circulatory system. Most is metabolised or exhaled. However, where exposure is continuous or excessive, levels can become high enough to cause damage.
According to the Health Protection Agency, recognised symptoms associated with TCE exposure include:
- Dizziness and heightened emotions
- Headache followed by drowsiness
- Coughing or shortness of breath
- Burning of the mouth, throat and stomach
- Skin irritation, dermatitis and burns injuries
- Eye injuries, including burning and stinging
Trichloroethylene is also classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as probably carcinogenic to humans. In addition, significant associations have been made to Parkinsons disease. Cases for both cancer and Parkinsons have been seen in claims.
Where the symptoms of trike exposure are immediate, a workplace should have first aid procedures in place to respond. The accident should also be recorded in the official work accident book. For persistent illnesses and long latency diseases, a solicitor can arrange a medical to confirm a diagnosis and to establish whether trike is a probable cause.
What are the recommended levels of TCE?
The EU Commissions workplace exposure limits (WELs), approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), set the concentration of hazardous substances in the air, averaged over time. Two time periods are used - 8 hours (long term) and 15 minutes (short term). For trichloroethylene exposure limits are:
- 8 hour period: 100 ppm (550 mg m-3)
- 15 min period: 150 ppm (820 mg m-3)
The short time periods are set to prevent effects such as eye irritation which can occur within a few minutes. The longer periods are set to prevent long-term, ongoing exposure that can lead to other illness.
What legislation protects workers?
A number of regulations apply where TCE exposure occurs in the workplace. This includes the Health and Safety of Work etc Act 1974. As TCE has been assigned a WEL, it is also subject to the provisions of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).
Under COSHH an employer is required to prevent or control exposure to trichloroethylene. Control is only deemed adequate if the principles of good control practice are applied, the WEL is not exceeded and exposure is reduced as low as is reasonably practical.
Common breaches of COSHH in relation to TCE
An employer who fails to identify the risks or implement appropriate control measures as set out in COSHH, would be deemed negligent and therefore liable. Examples of breaches include:
- A solution containing trichloroethylene used to degrease metal parts coming into contact with a workers skin due to insufficient protective clothing
- A worker is exposed to harmful fumes when metal components are dipped into uncovered trike-filled tanks due to lack of adequate breathing apparatus
- An employer did not adequately train an employee on the risks of TCE or on how to report faults in equipment
In order to prove a breach, evidence such as witness statements and company health and safety records should be sought. A solicitor can assist in this process. If an employer accepts liability, the agreed compensation amount should be paid through their employers liability insurance. This figure will be based on the extent of the injury or illness and proof of any additional expenses, such as loss of earnings.
The amount of money you could claim for your trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure will depend on:
- the extent 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 trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.
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 a trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure? (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 a trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure claim?
The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.
However, the money you would receive following a trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
See the injury table above for some examples.
What if I am not yet sure of the extent of my injury?
If you have not yet sought medical attention, your solicitor will arrange a medical assessment for you ASAP. If you are awaiting test results, a claim can still be started. Once the extent of the injuries are known, the settlement can be calculated.
Can I claim for physiotherapy and private care costs?
Private treatment can be expensive, but funding towards the cost of this treatment frequently comprises part of a compensation award. Your solicitor may even be able to arrange access to private medical care as soon as your claim is accepted.
Trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure compensation calculator
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure 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 trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure claim could be worth now:
How long does a tce exposure trike claim take?
How long it can take to get compensation for a TCE injury can vary considerably.
If your employer or responsible party accepts liability, a claim could be settled in a few weeks. If the employer denies liability, a compensation claim can take significantly longer. Typically, a hazardous substance injury claim will take 6 to 9 months. For more information, see:How long will my claim take?
Will I still be able to claim for a trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure after the law changes in April 2020?
The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.
You will no longer be able to claim no win, no fee compensation using a solicitor for lower value claims (under £5,000).
In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.
Caring and sensitive support
Your solicitor will handle your trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to 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.
How does no win, no fee work?
Under 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
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 trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure injury.
What do I pay if I win my trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, 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 trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure claim?
If your trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure 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.
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. trichloroethylene (tce) exposure claims can take a solicitor hundreds of hours work and they receive nothing if the case is lost. In some cases our solicitors can work on a reduced success fee. Call us for more information.
How can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, 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, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.
Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:
if you can claim
to start a claim
Trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure FAQ's
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 was partly responsible for an accident?
You may still be able to claim compensation even if you contributed to your accident or to your injuries.
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 a trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure claim?
In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure to make an injury claim.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure claim becomes 'statute barred'.
Can I claim for a trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure 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 612 7456 to find out if you are still able to claim trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure compensation.
In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether a trichloroethylene (TCE) exposure claim will be taken on by a solicitor.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.
Only a very small percentage (approx. 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 held in front of a judge, not a jury.
Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
Can I get an early compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.
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.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert