A Guide to Claiming Industrial Disease Compensation

If you have been affected by industrial disease we can help.

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


The term 'industrial disease' is used to describe a condition or illness which has developed after exposure to a dangerous substance in the workplace or as a result of unsafe working conditions.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimate 2 million people each year are affected by industrial disease and workplace illness. An estimated 13,000 people die every year from lung disease and cancer caused by exposure to harmful substances alone.

Many employees with an existing illness, injury or medical condition also experience a worsening of symptoms due to actions or failures on the part of their employer.

Do I have an industrial disease claim?

It should be possible to make an industrial disease 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.

What if the injury was diagnosed years after the event?

Typically, the dates of the injury and accident are the same. However, some injuries manifest themselves months or even years after the accident or exposure.

In this case, the clock starts ticking on the date of discovery (the date of diagnosis) of the injury rather than the date of the accident.

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What if the employer has gone bust?

Even if an employer or their insurer has gone out of business, a former worker may still be able to make a work-related accident claim.

Employers are legally required to carry Employer's Liability Insurance. This insurance ensures that protection is in place for employees affected by work-related accidents or industrial disease. The majority of successful claims are not paid out by the employer but by the employer's insurance company.

In extreme cases, where an employer and their insurer have both ceased trading, and no other responsible party can be traced, compensation may still be available through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Read more: Can I claim compensation if my employer has gone bust?

Can I claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit?

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) is a non-contributory, no-fault weekly benefit paid to workers and former workers who become disabled because of an accident at work or due to certain industrial diseases.

Anyone who has sustained a disability as a result of injuries or diseases arising from work may be eligible to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

Read more

What if I didn't seek medical attention?

If you did not seek medical attention to have your injuries diagnosed after an incident may make proving liability more difficult, but a claim may still be possible. This will depend on the circumstances of your case and on the other evidence available.

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Which industrial diseases can you claim for?

As a general rule, any disease or injury can be claimed for if it can be proven that condition resulted from an employer's breach of their duty. Quittance's specialist solicitors have assisted many people claim for industrial disease, including:

Cancers caused by hazardous material exposure

Asbestos exposure, which accounts for over half of the cases recorded by the Health and Safety Executive. Other causes include exposure to silica, diesel exhaust fumes and mineral oils.

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL)

An estimated 18,000 people currently experience hearing loss either caused by, or made worse by, working conditions. It can be caused by working in environments where the noise levels are over 80dBA, such as heavy industry, car factories and shipyards.

Many only discover the loss of hearing in later life, making it difficult to prove an employer was responsible. Quittance's solicitors work with hearing-loss claimants to build the strongest case possible.

Repetitive strain injury (RSI)

RSI is a broad category, describing the cause for a range of medical conditions. These include tenosynovitis, carpal tunnel, and tendinitis. According to research by RSI Awareness, 5.4 million sick days occurred in a single year as a direct result of RSI. 1 in 50 of the UK's working population report suffering from an RSI condition.

Hand arm vibration syndrome (vibration white finger)

Hand arm vibration syndrome claims can only be made for conditions caused by exposure at work after 1st January 1976. Claims can be made for conditions arising from the use of pneumatic tools after this date, including seasonal conditions affecting sufferers of hand arm vibration syndrome in colder weather.

Occupational stress

It is now possible to claim compensation for recognised psychiatric injury or illness where the harm has resulted from actions or negligence on the part of an employer. Quittance's solicitors recognise the sensitivities surrounding such circumstances and offer confidential, no-obligation guidance to those considering a claim.

Industrial disease claim time limits - am I too late to claim?

In general, anyone who has sustained an injury in an accident that was not their fault, that happened in the last 3 years will be able to make a claim.

It may be possible to claim for compensation after the three years if an injury or illness was 'discovered' in those three years.

The discovery or 'date of knowledge' can refer to anything that the claimant might reasonably have been expected to discover either by themselves or with the advice of a (often medical) professional. This is frequently the date a claimant is informed of their diagnosis.

If a settlement is not agreed within the three-year time frame, a claim is generally statue-barred. This means that you would be legally restricted from making a claim. Solicitor's advise that a claim for industrial disease is started as soon as possible as it will increase the chances of success.

For certain conditions, specific legislation applies. If you are uncertain whether this may apply to your potential claim, call Quittance on 0800 612 7456 to discuss your case with a solicitor.

How could compensation help you?

Financial compensation is rarely an adequate substitute to compensate for the consequences of industrial disease. Nevertheless, personal injury law is based on the principle that compensation should aim to return a person to the position they would have been in if the accident or illness had never occurred.

The past will not change as a consequence of a compensation award, but it should have a positive impact on your present circumstances and future care.

Quittance's panel of specialist solicitors have a track record of securing compensation awards for:

  • medical treatment and care costs
  • anticipated future treatment and care
  • other expenses including travel costs and potentially property damage
  • loss or reduction of mental or physical capacity
  • general pain and suffering
  • lost earnings during recovery
  • loss of earnings if unable to return to work

How much compensation can I claim for industrial disease?

The amount of money you could claim for your industrial disease 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 industrial disease 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 industrial disease? (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

Industrial Disease compensation amounts

The following industrial disease payouts refer to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, Fourteenth Edition by the Judicial College.

Injury Example Amount
Minor Lung disease Short-term aggravation of bronchitis or other chest infection £1,760 to £14,420
Moderate Lung disease Non-permanent lung conditions £4,240 to £14,420
Moderate Lung disease Slight breathlessness recovery in a few years £8,480 to £24,950
Serious Lung disease Bronchitis and wheezing £16,580 to £24,950
Serious Lung disease Emphysema £43,670 to £55,830
Serious Lung disease Breathing difficulties needing use of an inhaler £24,950 to £55,830
Severe Lung disease Life-threatening disease affecting a young person £80,250 to £108,370
Severe Lung disease Lung cancer causing severe pain and impairment £55,830 to £108,370
Show more results

What is the average injury compensation for an industrial disease 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 industrial disease will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your industrial disease 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.

Find out what your industrial disease claim could be worth now

Assessing a claim's value at the outset can be complicated, particularly if you have multiple injuries.

If you would like a FREE claim estimate with no obligation to start a claim, call 0800 612 7456.

Alternatively, our compensation calculator will give you an instant estimate of what your claim is worth.

Can I claim for prescription costs?

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

Calculate my claim

How long do I have to make an industrial disease claim?

In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the industrial disease to make an injury claim.

The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your industrial disease claim becomes 'statute barred'.

Can I claim for an industrial disease after 3 years?

The general rule is no, you cannot start a claim more than three years after an industrial disease.

In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether an industrial disease claim will be taken on by a solicitor.

Will I still be able to claim for an industrial disease 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 industrial disease 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.

Will I get advice on treatment options?

As part of the industrial disease claims process, your solicitor can arrange a thorough and independent needs assessment. The assessment may offer advice on treatment, access to treatments and therapies not always available on the NHS and co-ordination with rehabilitation providers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists etc

What is the likelihood of your claim being successful?

To win a compensation claim, it must be shown that your employer or former employer is liable for the illness or injury you have sustained.

Your claim is very likely to succeed if liability has been admitted. In matters where the defendant has not acknowledged liability, or they allege that blame for your illness rests partly on you, success is not guaranteed.

Your solicitor will help gather evidence with a view to putting together the most robust claim. They may advise you to:

  • report the circumstances to your employer, if applicable
  • gather statements, names and addresses from witnesses
  • complete or continue any course of medical treatment, including physiotherapy
  • retain receipts for travel expenses and any other costs resulting from the disease or injury, such as modifications to your home or vehicle

No win, no fee - the facts

No win, no fee means that your solicitor will not charge you anything if your industrial disease claim is unsuccessful. 'No win, no fee' is also known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA'.

Our 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 industrial disease injury compensation claim.

What do I pay if I win my industrial disease claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, once your claim is settled. 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 industrial disease claim?

If your industrial disease claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees at all.

Read more about No win, no fee

Please note, 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.

How can Quittance help?

Our highly experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning industrial disease claims. Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you.

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:

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Industrial Disease 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 will my claim take?

The length of time needed to secure compensation can vary considerably.

For example, straightforward car accident claims can settle in a matter of weeks, whereas complex medical negligence cases can take years.

Injury claims can also take longer if it is not clear who is responsible for your injury, or if liability is denied by the defendant.

Taken from average case times, this table sets out approximately how long personal injury claims take to settle:

Personal injury claim type

Estimated claim duration*

Road accident claims

4 to 9 months

Work accident claims

6 to 9 months

Medical negligence claims

12 to 36 months

Industrial disease claims

12 to 18 months

Public place or occupiers’ liability claims

6 to 9 months

MIB claims (uninsured drivers)

3 to 4 months**

CICA claims (criminal assault)

12 to 18 months**

*RTA and other claims processed through the Ministry of Justice portal can settle faster.
**Official Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) Government agency and Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) figures.

Read more about how long personal injury claims take.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by Quittance’s 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

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