Toluene Exposure Compensation Claims
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a toluene 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
Toluene, also known as methylbenzene and phenylmethane, is extensively used as solvent in the engineering, construction, textile, printing, woodworking and dry cleaning industries. The chemical is not necessarily toxic when used or handled correctly. However, exposure to high levels of toluene or over a long period can have an adverse effect on workers' health.
What are the effects of toluene exposure?
Toluene is eliminated from the body very quickly and adverse health effects are rare. However, accidents do happen and poor safety protocols and inadequate PPE can increase the risk of, and harm caused by, these accidents.
Inhaling, handling or swallowing high concentrations of toluene can give rise to a variety of respiratory and neurological illnesses, including:
- Breathing difficulties
- Inflammation of the throat, lungs, nose and mouth
- Occupational asthma
- Confusion, hallucinations and delusions
- Mood swings
- Chronic fatigue
- Kidney, liver and lung damage
- In severe cases, blindness, deafness, paralysis, coma and death.
Where toluene exposure is suspected, the injury lawyer will arrange a medical examination to establish whether toluene is present in the body and assess the extent of the damage.
The medical report is used to establish a link between the exposure and the claimant's symptoms, and as basis for negotiating the level of damages in the compensation claim.
Who is at risk of toluene exposure?
The majority of toluene exposure cases occur in workers who are exposed to the solvents in the workplace without the proper personal protective equipment such as face masks, heavy gloves and breathing apparatus.
As such, toluene exposure claims usually fall within the category of hazardous substances compensation claims against an employer.
Is my employer liable?
Health and safety laws such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) call for the strict control of industrial solvents in the workplace.
Employers are expected to monitor toluene exposure and ensure that workers stay below the exposure limit of 50 parts per million averaged over an 8-hour working day.
Appropriate exposure-reduction measures include:
- Installing a suitable exhaust ventilation system to remove toxic vapours from the work area
- Providing localised extraction equipment
- Monitoring air quality and acting upon the results
- Issuing equipment as defined by the PPE at Work regulations such as gloves, face masks and breathing apparatus to reduce the risk of inhalation and skin contact
- Providing separate lockers for work and street clothing to prevent cross-contamination
- Properly labelling solvent containers
- Taking steps to prevent leakage and discharge of the chemical
- Training staff on safe handling procedures.
An employer who fails to implement reasonable safety measures may be liable for any toluene-related illness that arises as a result. The Courts are very likely to find an employer negligent if the employer has breached a specific health and safety rule, such as those laid down by COSHH.
What if the employer has gone out of business?
Industrial diseases that result from toluene exposure can take many years to develop. It is possible that the employer responsible for the toluene exposure has gone out of business by the time a diagnosis is made.
In this scenario, it may still be possible to bring a compensation claim. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help with tracing the former employer's insurance company using the Employers' Liability Tracing Office. Even if the employer has ceased trading, settlement may be negotiated with the insurer.
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?
No Win, No Fee is an agreement with your solicitor (known as a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA) that means that you can make an injury claim with:
- no upfront legal fees
- no solicitor's fees payable if your claim is not successful
- a success fee payable only if your claim is successful
No Win, No Fee is the most common way to make a compensation claim.
No win, no fee promise
If you have been injured through no fault of your own, our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of making an injury compensation claim. 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%. Your solicitor will agree a success fee with you 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 won't have to pay your solicitor any fees. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
Is there a catch?
The Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) sets out the terms between you and your solicitor., No Win No Fee is a regulated activity and as such there should be no nasty surprises in the agreement. Nevertheless, it is recommended that you read the agreement carefully and ask any questions if you are unsure.
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.