A guide to making a No Win No Fee lung cancer claim
According to Cancer Research UK, there were an estimated 44,500 new cases of lung cancer in the UK in 2012 (latest figures). 89% 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.
Factors causing lung cancer claims 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
No Win, No Fee lung cancer claims explained
No Win, No Fee claims start once a Claimant agrees a Conditional Fee Agreement, or CFA, with a injury lawyer.
The agreement details the service executed by the solicitor and a percentage success fee that will be deducted from your compensation when your case is won.
You are able to prioritise your recovery, knowing that there is nothing to pay up front. There will be absolutely no hidden charges when using a Quittance personal injury solicitor.
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