Smoke Inhalation Compensation Claims
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a smoke inhalation accident, we can help.
Whether your injuries were caused by a slip, trip, fall or other incident, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
Claiming injury compensation with a solicitor
You can make a compensation claim for an accident in a public place with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.
Your solicitor will ask you about how the accident happened, and they will collect evidence to prove what caused your injuries. Your solicitor will then identify who is legally responsible. Based on your injuries, lost earnings and other expenses they will also work out how much money you can claim.
Owners or occupiers of business premises should have insurance to cover the cost of injury claims, and your compensation will be paid out of this policy.
We can help you make an injury claim, on a No Win No Fee basis.
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.
Do I have an injury claim?
AN injury claim should be possible if you sustained an injury:
- within the last 3 years, and;
- another person was to blame, and;
- that person owed you a duty of care.
Injury claim eligibility - Common questions
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 an injury claim on their own behalf.
What if I was diagnosed months after the smoke inhalation?
Depending on how your smoke inhalation happened, the three-year time limit may only start from the date you are diagnosed and learn of the cause of your injury. In some cases, this can be months or years after the cause occurred.
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 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.
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.
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 an injury? (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 an injury claim?
The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.
However, the money you would receive following an injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your injury compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life and your ability to work, and on the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
Will I have to pay tax on my smoke inhalation compensation?
If you receive financial compensation following a smoke inhalation injury, specific legislation ensures that you do not have to pay tax on it. This is the case no matter whether the compensation is received as a lump sum or as staggered payments.
Calculate my injury compensation
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an 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 injury claim could be worth now:
How long does a smoke inhalation injury claim take?
How long it can take to win compensation for a smoke inhalation injury can vary significantly.
A straightforward uncontested occupiers liability claim could be completed in a few weeks. If the defendant denies liability, a compensation claim can take longer. Typically, an occupiers liability claim will take 6 to 9 months. To read more about how long your claim could take, see: How long will my claim take?
How else can a solicitor help me?
Your solicitor will handle your injury claim from the initial FREE case evaluation, through to the financial settlement.
Your solicitor will work with other specialists to provide caring and sensitive support and 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.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. Solicitors settle the vast majority of claims out of court.
Less than 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 decided by a judge or magistrate, not a jury.
Even if the claim does go to court, it is very unlikely you will have to attend.
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 .
No win, no fee - our guarantee
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is absolutely no financial risk in making an injury claim, even if you don't win your claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim
What do I pay if I win my injury 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 injury claim?
If your injury 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.
Why do most solicitors charge 25%?
25% success fees are charged by most law firms as this is the maximum fee that the Ministry of Justice allows them to charge. smoke inhalation claims can take a solicitor hundreds of hours work and they receive nothing if the case is lost. The success fee will be subject to your individual circumstances and the actual fee may vary. Call us for more information.
How we can help you
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.
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
- 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday
Call us for FREE advice on 0800 376 1001, or arrange a call back from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:
- Find out
if you can claim
- No obligation
to start a claim
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 feel I was partly responsible for my accident?
Yes. You may still be able to claim compensation even if your actions may have contributed to the accident.
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 an injury claim?
In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the injury to make an injury claim.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your injury claim becomes 'statute barred'.
Can I claim for an injury 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.
If you were injured as a child, you do have up until your 21st birthday to make a claim.
There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 376 1001 to find out if you are still able to claim injury compensation.
In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether an injury claim will be taken on by a solicitor.
Will I have to visit a solicitor's office to start a claim?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. Personal injury claims are handled by email, post and phone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
I need the money now - what are my options?
If you are unable to work and have bills to pay, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is an advance on your compensation payment. Any amount you receive in interim payments would be deducted from your final compensation payment.
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.