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Lung cancer claims typically arise from exposure to hazardous substances like asbestos or tobacco smoke in the workplace. These claims typically consider the severity of the illness, the cost of medical and palliative care, and the claimant's pain and suffering.
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by lung cancer, we can help. If your injuries were caused by someone else's actions or negligence, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.
In this article
You are not alone
According to Cancer Research UK, there were an estimated 47,000 new cases of lung cancer in the UK (latest figures). 79% of these cases were considered to be preventable.
A noteworthy proportion of these cases were identified as occupational lung cancer - caused by unnecessary exposure to carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) in the workplace. If a person develops lung cancer due to an employer's negligence, the affected person could be entitled to make an industrial disease claim.
Claims citing negligence can also be made in cases of lung cancer misdiagnosis where the misdiagnosis has negatively impacted on a patient's outcome and chance of recovery.
If you decide to make a lung cancer claim, your personal injury solicitor will take you through every step of the claims process. Your solicitor will be with you until you win your claim and get the compensation you deserve.
How much compensation can I claim for a lung cancer?
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness 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 injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
Get an accurate compensation estimate (including for multiple injuries), confirm your legal position, and check if you have a No Win, No Fee claim.
Updated December 2023
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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 because of your accident. In addition to paying compensation for lost earnings, special damages can cover any care costs and medical procedures you need, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy.
Average lung cancer general damages compensation
The following lung cancer payouts refer to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, Sixteenth Edition by the Judicial College.These tables are used by solicitors or by the courts as a starting point when calculating your compensation.
Please note: these average figures represent general damages only, and do not include any element of special damages (e.g. lost wages).
|Lung disease||Serious||Breathing difficulties needing use of an inhaler||£28,460 to £49,850|
|Lung disease||Severe||Life-threatening disease affecting a young person||£91,520 to £123,560|
|Lung disease||Severe||Lung cancer causing severe pain and impairment||£63,660 to £88,480|
Lung cancer claim case study
£75,000 compensation was accepted by a 65-year-old woman following a clinical negligence claim for a delayed diagnosis of lung cancer. The claimant's health deteriorated in the period between the initial failure to diagnose the lung cancer and the eventual correct diagnosis. This deterioration made successful treatment impossible.
The claimant, an internal office manager and qualified nurse, aged 62 at the date of injury and 65 when the settlement was reached, suffered from a delayed diagnosis of cancer of the left lung and secondary cancer of the right lung.
The claimant went to hospital complaining of heart problems. A chest x-ray revealed a shadow on her left lung. This was reported to a specialist registrar and it was recommended that there should be a follow up x-ray. Unfortunately the registrar did not complete the paperwork correctly as a result of which the claimant was not recalled.
Two years later, the claimant was being treated for heart problems. The x-ray taken previously was discovered and it was only at this point that the claimant was made aware of the results.
As part of her treatment the claimant was sent for a further x-ray. The x-ray identified a mass in her left lung which was substantially bigger than the mass that could be seen on the original x-ray two years previously.
The claimant was ultimately given life expectancy of one year which was significantly worse than the anticipated life expectancy had the tumour been diagnosed when the first x-ray was taken.
NHS lung cancer negligence
It was alleged that the NHS Trust was negligent insofar as they failed to recall the claimant for follow-up treatment at the appropriate time. The claimant should have been able to have the appropriate, potentially life-saving treatment if the negligence had not occurred.
The claimant's heart problem was treated successfully, and the claimant should have been able to return to work as an office manager.
Lung cancer claim settlement
The matter was settled out of court for the sum of £75,000. Compensation of £44,938.33 was accepted for "pain, suffering and loss of amenity". The remainder of the compensation was made up of past and future losses, loss of earnings and future care.
Causes of lung cancer in the workplace
Many chemical compounds used in industry are known to potentially cause lung cancer. If an employee is exposed to a carcinogen as the result of an employers negligence, and develops lung cancer in later life, it is often possible to demonstrate a link between the two.
In the workplace, air pollution or everyday exposure to carcinogens such as soot, asbestos or diesel engine exhaust fumes are more common causes.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARCs) has an approved list of known and probable carcinogens. In addition to the ones mentioned, it identifies a range of other carcinogenic substances and processes specific to lung cancer. These include:
- Silica dust
- Ionising radiation
- Production of coal/coke
- Nickel compounds
- Production of rubber
- Production of aluminium, iron and steel
Exposure to many of these substances, particularly exposure significant enough to cause lung cancer, usually only occurs in the workplace. Industries at risk include manufacturing, construction and mining.
Being a long-latency disease, the symptoms of lung cancer often only appear years after exposure, therefore claims tend to relate to past employment. Symptoms can include: a persistent cough; chest pain; weight loss and loss of appetite; coughing up blood; tiredness; and weakness.
Occupational lung cancer claims
An estimated 21 per cent of lung cancers in men in the UK, and 5 per cent in women, are linked to occupational exposures (Cancer Research UK). Exposure to carcinogens in the workplace also accounts for a large majority of lung cancer compensation claims.
In most occupational lung cancer cases, the employer is liable if it can be proved that:
- Workplace exposure to carcinogens is the probable cause
- The employer acted negligently in their duty to prevent unnecessary exposure
Proving workplace exposure was the cause
During a medical examination arranged by a solicitor, a doctor will ask questions regarding past and current employment to ascertain whether workplace exposure was a likely cause.
However, proving lung cancer was caused by workplace exposure is not always straightforward.
For example, for a smoker who has worked in an asbestos-using industry, lung cancer could broadly have been caused by either their employment or the smoking. A claim may still be possible under such circumstances, provided that the type of lung cancer affecting the individual is more likely to be caused by the asbestos exposure, such as mesothelioma.
Demonstrating employer negligence
Employers have a legal duty to protect their employees from harm. This falls under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and, more specifically for lung cancer, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH).
If an employer failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment or to implement sufficient measures to control exposure to carcinogens, such as proper ventilation and suitable breathing apparatus, their actions could be deemed negligent.
Lung cancer and medical negligence
Medical negligence claims can arise following the misdiagnosis of lung cancer.
Doctors and medical professionals have a responsibility to their patients through the best care reasonably possible. A failure to diagnose lung cancer, correctly treat it or misdiagnose it, could result in a claim against a GP, an NHS trust or a private hospital.
Lung cancer misdiagnosis
As cancer treatment can be time-sensitive, prompt diagnosis may be vital to prevent the disease developing and spreading. The Courts recognise that misdiagnosis can have significant repercussions, and that delaying appropriate treatment can ultimately reduce a person's chances of recovery.
Common types of misdiagnosis seen in lung cancer claims include:
- Delay or failure to refer the patient to a specialist
- Failure to arrange further testing when symptoms of cancer were presented
- Failing to schedule a biopsy or further investigation
- Failure to act on biopsy results
- Failure to arrange appropriate treatments
How we can help you with your injury claim
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About the author
Chris Salmon is a co-founder and Director of Quittance Legal Services. Chris has played key roles in the shaping and scaling of a number of legal services brands and is a regular commentator in the legal press.