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Do I have a silicosis claim?

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Jonathan Speight

Panel Senior Litigator

A guide to making a No Win No Fee silicosis claim

Silicosis is a lung disease caused by inhaling silica dust, a common mineral found in certain types of stone, rock, granite, sand and clay. The Health and Safety Executive reports that silicosis dust is responsible for more than 600 deaths each year; two-thirds reported cases occur in the construction sector.

Workers and retired workers who are diagnosed with silicosis after being exposed to silica dust at work may be entitled to make an industrial diseases claim against their employer.

What is silicosis lung disease?

Silica dust is toxic to the lining of the lungs. When inhaled, it causes inflammation that irreversibly damages the lung tissue  - a condition known as silicosis.

If silicosis is suspected but not yet formally diagnosed, the Claimant's solicitor will arranged for a medical examination to confirm the diagnosis, recommend further treatment, and provide medical evidence so the claim can progress.

The Courts recognise that the severity of silicosis symptoms will affect an individual's life to varying degrees, and adjust the compensation awarded accordingly. The three main types of silicosis are:

  • Simple chronic silicosis - the most common type of silicosis that occurs after 20 years of inhaling silica dust, causing shortness of breath and a dry cough.
  • Accelerated silicosis - occurs in workers who inhale higher levels of silica over a shorter period, usually between 5 and 15 years. Symptoms develop sooner and include severe breathlessness, fatigue and weight loss.
  • Acute silicosis - a rare form of the disease that occurs after brief exposure to very high levels of silica dust. Symptoms may be immediate and severe, include breathing difficulty, chest pain and fluid on the lungs that does not respond to treatment.  Prognosis depends on the amount of damage to the lungs.

How much compensation can you claim for silicosis?

Diagnosis of silicosis involves blood tests, a chest X-ray, a CT scan and pulmonary function tests. A medical exam will, following the diagnosis, form the basis of the calculation of 'general damages'.

The amount of compensation awarded to a Claimant will also vary depending on the costs the Claimant has incurred in the course of treatment and ongoing care.

'Gratuitous care' costs can also usually be claimed on behalf of friends or family who have looked after a Claimant during their illness.

Who is at risk of silicosis?

People who cut, break, drill, crush or otherwise work with silica-containing materials are most at risk of developing silicosis. As such, silicosis is more prevalent among workers in the following industries:

  • Construction
  • Mining
  • Quarry works
  • Sand blasting
  • Stonemasonry
  • Foundry work
  • Pottery.

You do not need to have been employed in these industries to make a silicosis claim. If you have been exposed to silica dust as the result of another party's negligence, and have developed silicosis as a result, you may be able to make a claim.

Your solicitor will help to identify the party responsible for the exposure, and will advise on whether a claim can be made. 

Is the employer responsible for workplace-related silicosis?

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 impose far-reaching obligations on employers to minimise the effects of silica exposure, including:

  • Risk assessments to gauge whether the work environment is hazardous
  • Issuing personal protective equipment to employees
  • Providing adequate safety training.

If an employer has breached their health and safety regulations, or has otherwise failed to take reasonable steps to keep their workers safe from harm, then a silicosis compensation claim can be made.

What if my employer has gone out of business?

By law, employers must maintain Employers' Liability insurance to compensate their workers and former workers in the event that they suffer an accident or injury while at work.

Quittance's network of expert industrial claims solicitors can help trace the insurers of a former employer using the Employers' Liability Tracing Office and records held at Companies House. Even if an employer is no longer in business, it is still possible to make a claim for silicosis compensation against the insurer. Learn more from our article "Can I claim compensation if my employer has ceased trading "

Guaranteed No Win, No Fee - Pay nothing if your claim is unsuccessful

Typically a no win no fee agreement (technically known as a CFA or Conditional Fee Agreement) is put in place between a claimant and a qualified solicitor.

The Conditional Fee Agreement is the conditions under which the solicitor is instructed by their client.

It sets out what the lawyer will actually do and how the solicitor will be rewarded if your legal case is won.

If you instruct a Quittance Personal Injury solicitor for your silicosis claim there will be no hidden or extra fees , nothing to pay up-front and the complete peace of mind that you will not be out of pocket.

What to do next

Learn more about the claims process

Before you decide to instruct a lawyer arm yourself with as much information about the process as you feel you need. The right answers can help you to make the best decision for your future.

Find answers to questions asked by injured people on the frequently asked questions page.

Compare personal injury solicitors

The vast majority of injury solicitors will work on a No Win, No Fee basis. The success fee each solicitor charges will have a significant impact on the compensation a Claimant gets to keep.

Get a personal injury quote for more information on how much more you could keep with Quittance's injury lawyers compared to many other injury solicitors .

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