A Guide to Claiming Workplace Cancer Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by workplace cancer we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered workplace cancer and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
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 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.
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.
What can I claim for after a workplace cancer? (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 a workplace cancer claim?
The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.
However, the money you would receive following a workplace cancer will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your workplace cancer 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.
Can I claim for an existing workplace cancer that has got worse?
Yes, it is possible to pursue a claim in the event that a pre-existing medical condition, illness or injury is made worse or aggravated by an accident or someone else's negligence.
Should I set up a personal injury trust?
If you are receiving means-tested benefits and are awarded compensation following a workplace cancer injury, your benefits could be affected. In order to ring fence your compensation and protecting your benefits, you may be able to set up a "Personal Injury Trust" or "PI Trust". Read more: Should I set up a personal injury trust?
Workplace cancer compensation calculator
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a workplace cancer 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 workplace cancer claim could be worth now:
How long does a workplace cancer claim take?
The length of time needed to settle a workplace cancer claim can vary considerably.
For instance, if your employer accepts liability, a claim can settle in a matter of weeks. However, if liability is denied a claim can take considerably longer. On average an industrial deafness claim takes 6 to 9 months. See more:How long will my claim take?
Will I still be able to claim for a workplace cancer 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 workplace cancer 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.
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. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
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 can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning industrial disease 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 612 7456 or arrange a callback:
if you can claim
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 do I have to make a workplace cancer claim?
In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the workplace cancer to make an injury claim.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your workplace cancer claim becomes 'statute barred'.
Can I claim for a workplace cancer 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 612 7456 to find out if you are still able to claim workplace cancer compensation.
In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether a workplace cancer claim will be taken on by a solicitor.
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.
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 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.
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