A Guide to Claiming Smoke Inhalation Compensation
Updated: Sep 2, 2019
The following guide sets out what you need to know about making a successful smoke inhalation compensation claim.
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.
Do I have a smoke inhalation claim?
A smoke inhalation injury claim should be possible if you sustained an injury:
- within the last three years and,
- another person 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.
Get impartial advice on whether you have a claim - speak to a smoke inhalation claim expert on 0800 612 7456.
A short call will confirm whether you have a claim. You will never be pressured into making a claim.
Alternatively you can try our Online Claim Checker.
What if it was a criminal incident?
If your Smoke Inhalation injury resulted from a criminal incident, you can pursue a claim via the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). The CICA must receive your application within 2 years of the Incident Date.
What if a child was injured?
The 3 year rule does not apply to minors.
A claim can be pursued for anyone under the age of 18 by a parent, guardian or litigation friend. The injured child has up to the age of 21 to start a smoke inhalation claim on their own behalf.
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 body.
- 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 body.
- 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 can a claim be made 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.
The amount of money you could claim for your smoke inhalation 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 smoke inhalation 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 smoke inhalation 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.
How did your injury occur?
The claims process that your solicitor follows will vary, depending on how the injury occurred:
If you are thinking of making a work accident or injury claim, there are some key points to be aware of:
In a road accident
If you are thinking of making a road accident claim, there are some key points to be aware of:
In a public place (e.g. supermarket, pavement)
If you have been injured in a public place, there are some key points you need to be aware of:
Other claim types
Find details on another type of claim:
How does no win, no fee work?
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 .
Our no win, no fee promise
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is absolutely no financial risk in making a smoke inhalation claim, even if you don't win your claim.
What do I pay if I win my smoke inhalation claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your claim is settled. 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 smoke inhalation claim?
If your smoke inhalation 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 injury 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
Smoke Inhalation 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