Toxic Torts Compensation Claims
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a toxic torts 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
A toxic tort is a legal claim for harm caused by exposure to a hazardous substance. If you have sustained an injury following exposure to a toxic or hazardous substance, you may be able to make a toxic tort compensation claim.
What is defined as 'hazardous' in a toxic tort claim?
The term applies to a wide range of substances and preparations ?which have the potential to cause harm to health if they are ingested, inhaled, or are absorbed by, or come into contact with, the skin, or other body membranes.?
These substances occur in various forms, including solids, liquids, vapours, gases and fumes and simple asphyxiants (gases and vapours which, when present at high concentrations in air may displace the oxygen content to such an extent that life cannot be supported).
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) includes around 400 products in its list of workplace exposure limits within the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH).
How might a toxic tort arise?
Workers may be exposed to dangerous chemicals through their occupation, although exposure levels should be controlled and monitored through COSHH. Some occupational diseases may not manifest until years after exposure.
Other work-related illnesses may be develop following incidents where the substances are accidentally released into the environment. These environmental hazards may be caused by negligent substance handling or disposal.
For example, aerially-sprayed pesticides and herbicides may easily contaminate the air, ground and water if used incorrectly, and may escape into water courses if not disposed of properly.
Some environmental hazards may occur in the wake of catastrophic accidents - such as factory explosions or building collapses - leading to the release of hazardous substances.
Such incidents may have negative health consequences for those living and working in the vicinity, and give rise to 'multi-party' toxic torts, where several affected individuals make a joint claim against the negligent party.
What are the effects on health?
The effects of exposure to a toxic substance depend on the level of exposure, the substance and the method of exposure.
For example, carbon tetrachloride discharged from chemical plants and other industrial activities is toxic by inhalation, ingestion and dermal exposure. Skin or eye contact may cause irritation; inhalation and ingestion may cause a reduced level of consciousness, sickness, headache, dizziness, gastric upset, stomach pain, and breathing difficulties. Exposure may also damage liver and kidneys, leading to coma and death in severe cases. Carbon tetrachloride may also be carcinogenic.
As another example, benzene is toxic by both inhalation and ingestion and may enter the environment through leaching from gas storage tanks and landfills. Short-term exposure may be irritating to eyes and can result in drowsiness, tachycardia, headaches, tremors, confusion and unconsciousness. Longer (chronic) low level exposure may cause the onset of a range of diseases giving rise to workplace cancer claims.
The effects of other hazardous substances are detailed by Public Health England.
What happens if a person falls ill through exposure?
Anyone whose health is affected by an environmental hazard should see his GP to explain the symptoms and potential source of exposure. This may help to identify the substance he has been exposed to and ensure the correct treatment is given.
If the hazard was due to negligence and therefore could have been prevented, it may be possible to bring a claim for compensation against the liable third party.
Claims for toxic tort involve thorough investigation of the parties responsible and a detailed assessment of the claimants health and its longer-term impact.
Do I have an injury claim?
It should be possible to make an injury claim if:
- you were diagnosed in the last 3 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 376 1001.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.
What if I want to make a multi-party or group claim?
A multi-party claim (sometimes referred to as a 'group claim' or a 'class action') brought by a group of people who have sustained the same or similar injuries due to the negligence of the same defendant. How you start a multi-party claim will depend on the circumstances and we recommend you speak to a solicitor for more information.
What if I can't prove who is responsible for my toxic torts?
Your solicitor will work on your behalf to assess your toxic torts claim and gather evidence. They will identify the party responsible for your accident.
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.
Will an industrial disease claim affect my benefits?
It may. The receipt of a compensation award could affect the calculation of any means-tested benefits. One approach to protecting your benefits, would be to set up a "Personal Injury Trust" or "PI Trust". Read more: Should I set up a personal injury trust?
Can I get an interim payment?
Interim payments are effectively an advance on a probable compensation award. An interim payment may be awarded if the claimant is in immediate financial hardship.
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 toxic torts claim take?
How long it can take to get compensation for a toxic tort claim can vary significantly.
For instance, if your employer or responsible party accepts liability, a claim could be settled in a month or two. However, if liability is denied it could take longer. Normally a hazardous substance injury claim should 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' means that if your injury claim is not successful, you will not have to pay your solicitor any money. Known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA', no win, no fee is a contract between you (the 'claimant') and your solicitor.
No win, no fee guarantee
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is absolutely no financial risk in making an injury claim, even if you don't win your 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, only 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 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 penalty if I withdraw?
Under a No Win, No Fee Agreement (CFA), fees may apply if a claimant refuses to cooperate, or abandons their claim after the legal work has started, or if the claim is fraudulent.
What is Legal Aid available for?
In 2000, the government abolished the right to legal aid in personal injury and industrial disease cases. Depending on an individual's circumstances, Legal Aid may be available for discrimination cases, criminal cases, family mediation and court or tribunal representation.
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.