If a smoke inhalation injury has set you back, we'll help you move forward
Smoke inhalation injuries can have devastating effects on respiratory health and may occur in fires or workplace accidents.
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a smoke inhalation accident, we can help you claim financial compensation. Compensation can cover treatment for acute symptoms and any chronic respiratory issues that develop, as well as physical and psychological trauma.
You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.
In this article
Smoke can contain a number of toxic, harmful and carcinogenic chemicals, which can cause injury if inhaled. Plastics, soft furnishings, wood, fabrics and refuse all give off toxic and carcinogenic fumes.
While burns injuries are a more commonly expected result of serious fires, smoke inhalation is as capable of causing serious injury.
If an fire-related accident at work or in an accident in a public place results in smoke-related injury or illness, it may be possible to make a claim for compensation. A claim's likelihood of success, however, is likely to be heavily dependent on the circumstances of the fire.
Am I entitled to make a smoke inhalation claim?
In general, you can claim compensation if you were hurt:
- in the last 3 years, and;
- another person or organisation was to blame, and;
- they owed you duty of care.
Use our injury claim calculator to find out if you can claim. Or you can call 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor. Find out in minutes if you have a claim.
Can I make a claim even if I'm partly liable?
Pinpointing liability for an accident will depend on the context, with different legal principles applying to different circumstances.
In our 2023 Public Liability Injury Claimant Survey, 17.45% of respondents felt they were at least partly responsible for their accident or injuries.
Claims are possible even when your actions partially caused the accident. In instances of 'contributory negligence', claims are usually settled with a split liability agreement.
How long do I have to claim smoke inhalation injury compensation?
An injury claim will usually need to be made within 3 years of the date or your accident or injury.
If you were not immediately aware that you were harmed by someone else's negligence, the 3-year time limit runs from the date you were diagnosed and became aware of what caused your injury or illness.
Symptoms and effects of smoke inhalation
Smoke inhalation can cause a variety of symptoms depending on the materials producing the smoke and the severity of the exposure. Symptoms could include less severe side-effects such as:
- Sore throat
- Mucus build up
More long-term health implications of smoke inhalation could include:
- Oedema - when cells lining the respiratory system, throat and mouth are damaged by heat from smoke, a build-up of fluids in airways can occur, causing pain and difficulty breathing.
- Asphyxia - smoke inhalation can cause airways in the lungs to become blocked, leading to difficulty breathing. This can result in the deprivation of oxygen in the .
- Pneumonia - inflammation of the lungs caused by chemicals and toxins in smoke.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Cancer - carcinogenic chemicals in smoke can cause cancer of the lungs or in other parts of the .
- Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome - this may require the use of an oxygen mask
- Cerebral Hypoxia - when the brain is starved of oxygen. This could cause brain damage
Who do I claim against?
In order to for smoke inhalation illness or injury, a third party must be found responsible. This could be:
If smoke inhalation occurred at work as a result of incorrect breathing protection or inadequate ventilation equipment. Employers are responsible for providing a safe work environment to staff. A failure to regularly undertake fire safety audits may be evidence of an employer's negligence.
If a landlord's negligence led to a fire which resulted in smoke inhalation injuries, it may be possible to make a claim against the landlord. Installing furnishing that does not meet fire safety requirements, or failing to abide by fire safety regulations, may be evidence in support of a claim.
If another driver is responsible for a road traffic accident and that accident resulted in a fire, the driver may be found responsible for any injury or illness caused by the fire, including burns and smoke inhalation.
How much compensation can I claim for a smoke inhalation?
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
Compensation Calculator v3.04
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.
If it can be proved that your injury left you unable to work, special damages can be awarded for any lost earnings, loss of commission or bonuses, and loss of pension contributions. It may also be possible to claim for loss of future earnings, if the medical prognosis establishes that you won't be able to work for any period in the future.
These damages will also cover the cost of any medical procedures you might need to treat or recover from your smoke inhalation such as oxygen therapy, hospital monitoring and psychological support.
Can I claim compensation for a psychological injury?
If you have suffered psychological harm in addition to a physical injury or illness, you are not alone.
Our 2023 Public Place Injury Claimant Survey highlights that 29.03% of claimants reported they had suffered a psychological injury, 70.97% of which related to a physical injury.
Experiencing smoke inhalation can lead to anxiety in situations where a risk of fire is perceived, impacting sense of safety.
Your solicitor will help ensure that any psychological harm you have suffered as the result of another party's negligence is recognised and included in the calculation of your compensation award or settlement. In addition, you can also claim for mental health treatment costs that may not be readily available on the NHS.
Our compensation calculator can estimate your compensation for psychological injuries. Or you can call us on 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor.
How did your injury happen?
Claiming compensation depends on the circumstances of your injury. Click the icons below for read more:
How we can help you with your injury claim
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.
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Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor
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.