Impairment of Taste and Smell Compensation Claims

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by an sensory impairment injury we can help.

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered an sensory impairment injury and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.

In our guide to claiming impairment of taste and smell compensation:


Taste and smell are closely related senses. Impairment of either, or both, can have a detrimental effect on your experiences and quality of life. Symptoms can sometimes lead to weight loss and clinical depression.

A smell or taste disorder may develop with age or relate to an illness such as a sinus infection or a nervous or neurological condition.

Impairment can also occur through head trauma or exposure to certain chemicals. If you have suffered an injury that affects your sense of taste or smell and a third-party is at fault, a compensation claim may be possible.

Head injury

Do I have an impairment of taste and smell claim?

As a basic rule, you will be eligible to make an impairment of taste and smell claim if you sustained an injury:

  • in the last three years, and;
  • someone else was to blame, and;
  • that person owed you a duty of care.
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Injury claim eligibility - Common questions

What if a child was injured?

The 3 year rule does not apply to minors.

A claim can be pursued for anyone under the age of 18 by a parent, guardian or litigation friend. The injured child has up to the age of 21 to start an impairment of taste and smell claim on their own behalf.

Read more about claiming injury compensation on behalf of a child.

What if there is no evidence?

Evidence can take the form of eyewitness accounts, CCTV footage, photographs etc. It will be difficult to win an impairment of taste and smell claim with no evidence at all. You may feel that there is no evidence but a solictor may well be able to assist in collating evidence that you, as a claimant, were unaware of.

How much compensation can I claim for impairment of taste and smell?

The amount of money you could claim for your impairment of taste and smell 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 impairment of taste and smell 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

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

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

What can I claim for after an impairment of taste and smell? (see list)

Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

Impairment of taste and smell compensation amounts

The following impairment of taste and smell payouts refer to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, Fifteenth Edition by the Judicial College.

These tables are used by solicitors or by the courts as a starting point when calculating your compensation.

Example Amount
Injury to senses
Loss of taste £15,300 to £19,920
Loss of smell £19,920 to £26,230
Loss of smell and some loss of taste £26,230 to £31,220
Total loss of smell and taste Around £31,220

What is the average injury compensation for an impairment of taste and smell 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 impairment of taste and smell will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your impairment of taste and smell 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.

See the injury table above for some examples.

Can I claim for prescription costs?

Special damages are awarded for costs or losses incurred as a result of the impairment of taste and smell injury. Damages can include loss of earnings, treatment cost and any other 'out-of-pocket' expenses such as prescriptions.

Calculate my impairment of taste and smell compensation

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an impairment of taste and smell 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 impairment of taste and smell claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

How long does an impairment of taste and smell claim take?

The length of time needed to settle a loss of senses claim can vary significantly.

A simple liability accepted injury claim could be completed in a month or two. If liability is denied, however, it could take considerably longer. On average an injury claim should take 4 to 9 months. Read more: How long will my claim take?

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your impairment of taste and smell 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.

Understanding loss of taste and smell

Taste and smell are known as chemical senses. This is because they enable detection of any substance - whether air, water, food or drink - from its unique chemical signature.

Smelling and tasting begins when substances release molecules which then stimulate special nerve cells in the nose, mouth and throat. Messages are then sent to the brain, and specific smells or tastes identified. If any of these nerve cells are damaged, or any of the corresponding receptors in the brain become damaged, then impairment can occur.

Impairment is usually the result of damage to the olfactory systems (used to detect smell), and this is most common in compensation claims. However as taste is over 75 percent based on smell, both are often affected.

  • Loss of smell is medically known as anosmia
  • Loss of taste functions of the tongue (which only includes the ability to indicate texture and distinguish between sweetness, sourness, bitterness, saltiness, and umami) is called ageusia

Professional diagnosis of a smell or taste condition forms the basis of claim. A solicitor will arrange a medical examination as part of the claim process. In addition, the cause of the loss of senses must be established.

What are the common causes of impairment?

For a claim to be made, the full or partial loss of taste or smell (or both) must be attributable to the negligence of another person. For this type of sensory impairment, there are two main causes:

  • Head injury or trauma
  • Exposure to certain chemicals or toxic fumes

Other causes can include injury during ear, nose and throat surgery, or certain medications.

Head injury

According to Fifth Sense, a charity for people affected by taste and smell disorders, head injury is thought to be one of the most common causes of smell loss. The extent of loss is determined not only by the severity of the injury, but also by the part of the head damaged.

Loss of smell can be caused by damage to the frontal lobes - where smell is processed. Alternatively, it can occur due to damage of the nerves which travel from the olfactory receptor cells to the brain. It can also result from damage to the nose itself.

Such injury could occur in a range of circumstances but, most commonly in claims, are often the result of an accident in the workplace or a road traffic accident.

Exposure to chemicals or toxic fumes

Although less common, exposure to certain chemicals, such as insecticides, solvents and heavy metals (such as cadmium, chromium, nickel, and manganese), can have an adverse effect on the olfactory system. Not only can they alter a person's ability to smell, but they can also cause irreversible damage.

In most instances, toxic agents adversely influence sense of smell by directly damaging the olfactory neuroepithelium (a neural tissue) - located in the upper recesses of the nasal chamber.

Exposure to such toxins can occur as a result of general air pollution or in the workplace. It is where it occurs in the latter, a claim can be made.

Establishing liability

Who is liable depends on the individual circumstances in which the injury occurred.

If head trauma which caused loss of smell and taste was the result of a road traffic accident, the other driver could be liable if they were proven to be at fault. Under common law all drivers have a 'duty of care' towards other road users. If they caused harm, there actions would be deemed negligent.

Alternatively, if impairment occurred due to involvement in an accident at work which resulted in a head injury, or through exposure to toxic fumes at work, the employer could be held liable.

A range of legislation, including the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002, require employers to identify risks and provide a safe work environment. If they do not, their actions or inaction would be deemed negligent and, if identified as the cause of the impairment, would make them responsible.

For medical negligence, such as injury during surgery, the medical staff or hospital could be liable.

How did your injury occur?

The claims process that your solicitor follows will vary, depending on how the injury occurred:

No win, no fee - the facts

No win, no fee means that your solicitor will not charge you any legal fees if your impairment of taste and smell claim is unsuccessful. 'No win, no fee' is also known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA'.

Our no win, no fee promise

Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is no financial risk in making an impairment of taste and smell 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 impairment of taste and smell claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after 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 impairment of taste and smell claim?

If your impairment of taste and smell claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees at all. 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 do personal injury solicitors get paid?

If your impairment of taste and smell claim is successful, the defendant, or their insurer, will pay the compensation and your solicitors fees.

How can Quittance help?

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, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 376 1001 or arrange a callback:

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Impairment of taste and smell 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.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

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.

Read more about claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

How long do I have to make an impairment of taste and smell claim?

In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the impairment of taste and smell to make an injury claim.

The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your impairment of taste and smell claim becomes 'statute barred'.

Can I claim for an impairment of taste and smell 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.

If you were injured as a child, you do have up until your 21st birthday to make a claim.

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 impairment of taste and smell compensation.

In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether an impairment of taste and smell claim will be taken on by a solicitor.

Calculate your claim limitation date

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.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

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.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

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.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor