A Guide to Claiming Smoke Inhalation Compensation

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a smoke inhalation accident we can help.

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a smoke inhalation accident and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.

Introduction

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.

Warehouse 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, and;
  • that person owed you a duty of care.

Find out whether you may have a claim with our Online Claim Checker:

Check my claim

Are there any exceptions?

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.

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.

Read more about claiming injury compensation on behalf of a child.

What if I want to make a multi-party or group claim?

A multi-party claim (sometimes referred to as a 'group claim' or a 'class action') brought by a group of people who have sustained the same or similar injuries due to the negligence of the same defendant. How you start a multi-party claim will depend on the circumstances and we recommend you speak to a solicitor for more information.

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
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • 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:

An employer

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.

A landlord

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.

Another driver

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 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

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

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

What can I claim for after a smoke inhalation? (see list)

Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

What is the average injury compensation for a smoke inhalation claim?

The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.

However, the money you would receive following a smoke inhalation will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your smoke inhalation compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.

See the injury table above for some examples.

Can I claim for physiotherapy and private care costs?

Private treatment can be expensive, but funding towards the cost of this treatment frequently comprises part of a compensation award. Your solicitor may even be able to arrange access to private medical care as soon as your claim is accepted.

Smoke inhalation compensation calculator

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a smoke inhalation 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 smoke inhalation claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

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.

For example, 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?

Will I still be able to claim for a smoke inhalation after the law changes in April 2020?

The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.

You will no longer be able to claim no win, no fee compensation using a solicitor for lower value claims (under £5,000).

In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your smoke inhalation claim 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:

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.

Read more about how no win, no fee works

Can I get Legal Aid?

Legal aid is no longer available when making a personal injury claim, but a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win, No Fee) can reduce the financial risks of making a claim.

How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, 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, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:

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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.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

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.

Read more about claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

How long do I have to make a smoke inhalation claim?

In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the smoke inhalation to make an injury claim.

The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your smoke inhalation claim becomes 'statute barred'.

Can I claim for a smoke inhalation 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 612 7456 to find out if you are still able to claim smoke inhalation compensation.

In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether a smoke inhalation claim will be taken on by a solicitor.

Calculate your claim limitation date

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the 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.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

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.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

Can I get an early compensation payment?

If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

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.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

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.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert