A Guide to Claiming Workplace Cancer Compensation
Updated: Sep 2, 2019
This easy-to-follow guide looks at everything you should know about making a successful workplace cancer compensation claim.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have estimated that there are around 13,500 new cases of cancer caused by work every year. This figure is likely to be an underestimate, as many links between working environments and some cancer illnesses are not yet proven.
If an individual has been exposed to a known carcinogen, or cancer-causing substance, in the workplace, and the individual is diagnosed with cancer, they could be entitled to make a claim.
Do I have a workplace cancer claim?
It should be possible to make a workplace cancer claim if you sustained an injury:
- in the last three years and;
- someone else was to blame.
However, there may be other considerations that mean you have a valid claim - even if the above points do not apply to you.
To get a definitive answer, speak to a legally trained adviser on 0800 612 7456.
A short call will confirm whether you have a claim. You will be under no obligation to start a claim with Quittance.
Alternatively you can try 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.
The amount of money you could claim for your workplace cancer 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 workplace cancer 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 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.
See a list of what you can claim for:
Examples of special damages include:
- Lost earnings (including future earnings)
- Medical treatment costs
- Travel costs
- Costs of care
- Costs of adapting your home or car
Find out what your claim could be worth now
Assessing a claim's value at the outset can be complicated.
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.
Caring and sensitive support
Your solicitor will handle your workplace cancer case 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.
What are the common carcinogens in workplace cancer claims?
Carcinogens come in many forms, including: vapours; liquids; gases; solids and dusts. Damage can occur through inhalation, swallowing or if they come into contact with bare skin.
All potentially carcinogenic substances are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IRAC) as ‘definitely', ‘probably' or ‘possibly' carcinogenic (versus not classifiable or probably not carcinogenic).
What industries are most at risk?
According to the HSE, the construction industry has the largest number of occupational cancer cases, with 5,500 registered each year.
Other high risk industries include: plastic, textiles, rubber, pesticide/fertiliser manufacturers; glass and metal production; tyre making; gasworks; aerospace; petrol and diesel; paint production; leather treating plants; dentistry; printing; and chemical manufacturing and processing.
What type of cancer does each carcinogen produce?
The type of occupational cancer diagnosed varies depending on the causal agent the person was exposed to. According to the Institution of Occupational Health and Safety (IOSH), common carcinogens and their corresponding cancers include:
- Asbestos fibre-related claims (larynx, lung, ovary, pharynx, colorectum, stomach cancers, mesothelioma)
- Wood dusts (nasopharynx, sinonasal cancers)
- UV radiation from sunlight (skin cancers)
- Metalworking fluids and mineral oils (bladder, lung, sinonasal, skin cancers)
- Silica dust-related claims (silicosis, lung cancer)
- Diesel engine exhaust-related claims (bladder, lung cancers)
- Coal tars and pitches (non-melanoma skin cancer)
- Arsenic (bladder, lung, skin cancers)
- Dioxins (lung cancer)
- Environmental tobacco smoke (passive smoking claims) (lung cancer)
- Naturally occurring radon (lung cancer)
- Tetrachloroethylene (cervix, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, oesophagus cancers)
- Paints (bladder, lung)
- Welding (lung cancer, melanoma of the eye)
- Shift (night) work (breast cancer)
Confirming a diagnosis of work-related cancer In order to pursue a claim, a cancer must be seen as a direct result of workplace exposure to a known carcinogen. Unfortunately, for the individual affected, it can be hard to accurately conclude that a specific chemical or radiation caused a cancer.
Doctors are aware of many of the known carcinogens and the types of cancer they can produce. Any medical examination will include asking certain background information, including work history. This will help establish a link.
As cancers can take ten years or more after exposure to appear, it is important to look at past jobs as well as more current ones. A solicitor can help a claimant gather supporting evidence, such as company health and safety records, as well as witnesses, to help build a case.
What are the responsibilities of employers?
Employers are required to protect their employees from harm in the workplace. This legal responsibility is provided for in a range of legislation including the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work 1999.
In addition, when a known carcinogen is used in a workplace, an employer is required to identify it, then either remove it or implement appropriate measures to control it. This guidance is set out in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).
In many industries, removing the carcinogen completely is not possible, as the substance is a necessary component of a process. In these instances, the employer must carry out a full risk assessment and ensure that exposed workers are sufficiently protected by:
- Installing adequate safety measures including barriers, warning signs and ventilation and regularly checking and maintaining them
- Providing good quality, industry approved personal proactive equipment (PPE) such as safety clothing, breathing masks and eye wear and showing them how to properly use it
- Training staff on the potential risks of the known carcinogen and the correct safety procedures
- Providing health surveillance to check for cancer or pre-cancerous cells
If an employer fails to adhere to any of these requirements and a worker is later diagnosed with cancer they could be held liable - provided the diagnoses confirms that the cancer is likely to be a result of the carcinogen in that particular work environment.
No win, no fee, no risk
Under a no win, no fee agreement, your solicitor agrees that you will have no legal fees to pay if you do not winn your claim .
No win, no fee guarantee
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is zero financial risk in making a workplace cancer claim, even if you don't win your claim.
What do I pay if I win my workplace cancer 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%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my workplace cancer claim?
If your workplace cancer claim is not successful then you will not have to pay any fees.
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:Call me back
No Win, No Fee
to start a claim
Workplace Cancer 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.
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.
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*
4 to 9 months
6 to 9 months
12 to 36 months
12 to 18 months
6 to 9 months
3 to 4 months**
12 to 18 months**
**Official Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) Government agency and Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) figures.
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.
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.
Can I get an interim compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim interim compensation payments.
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.
About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert