Trichloroethylene (TCE) Exposure Compensation Claims
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by TCE exposure, 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
Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a non-flammable liquid chlorinated hydrocarbon used as an industrial solvent.
A known toxin, TCE 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 duty includes keeping exposure within the recommended guidelines using preventative controls and measures.
If you have been made ill by experienced excessive or repeated exposure as a result of your employer's negligence, you may be able to make a claim for compensation.
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 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 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.
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 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?
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.
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 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, 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 whatsoever. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
Can I get Legal Aid?
Legal aid is no longer available when making a personal injury claim, but a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win, No Fee) can reduce the financial risks of making a claim.
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.