Pneumoconiosis Compensation Claims
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by pneumoconiosis we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered pneumoconiosis and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
In our guide to claiming
Referring to a group of chronic occupational lung diseases, ?pneumoconiosis' includes asbestosis, berylliosis, byssinosis, coal worker's pneumoconiosis (black lung), kaolin pneumoconiosis, siderosis and silicosis.
Asbestosis is most common, with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reporting 900 newly assessed cases for Industrial Disablement Benefit in 2013. Excluding asbestosis, there were 252 estimated new cases of pneumoconiosis seen by chest physicians in the same year (THOR-SWORD).
If an individual is diagnosed with a form of pneumoconiosis, they are entitled to make a claim for compensation if negligence can be proven.
Do I have a pneumoconiosis claim?
As a basic rule, you can make a pneumoconiosis claim if your injury occurred:
- in the last three years, and;
- someone else was at fault, and;
- that person owed you a duty of care.
Do I have a claim? - 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 a pneumoconiosis claim on their own behalf.
What if I can't prove who caused the pneumoconiosis?
Your solicitor will work on your behalf to assess your pneumoconiosis claim and gather evidence. They will identify the party responsible for your accident.
Can I claim if the pneumoconiosis made an existing injury worse?
Yes, although demonstrating this can be more difficult, so legal and medical advice should be sought as early as possible.
The amount of money you could claim for your pneumoconiosis 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 pneumoconiosis 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.
What can I claim for after a pneumoconiosis? (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
Pneumoconiosis compensation amounts
The following pneumoconiosis payouts refer to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, Fifteenth Edition by the Judicial College.These tables are used by solicitors or by the courts as a starting point when calculating your compensation.
|Lung disease||Minor||Short-term aggravation of bronchitis or other chest infection||£1,760 to £14,420|
|Lung disease||Moderate||Non-permanent lung conditions||£4,240 to £14,420|
|Lung disease||Moderate||Slight breathlessness recovery in a few years||£8,480 to £24,950|
|Lung disease||Serious||Bronchitis and wheezing||£16,580 to £24,950|
|Lung disease||Serious||Emphysema||£43,670 to £55,830|
|Lung disease||Serious||Breathing difficulties needing use of an inhaler||£24,950 to £55,830|
|Lung disease||Severe||Life-threatening disease affecting a young person||£80,250 to £108,370|
|Lung disease||Severe||Lung cancer causing severe pain and impairment||£55,830 to £108,370|
What is the average injury compensation for a pneumoconiosis 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 pneumoconiosis will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your pneumoconiosis 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.
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a pneumoconiosis 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 pneumoconiosis claim could be worth now:
How long does a pneumoconiosis claim take?
How long it can take to secure compensation for pneumoconiosis can vary significantly.
For instance, a straightforward liability accepted injury claim could be settled in a couple of months. If the defendant denies liability, the process might take longer. Typically, an injury claim takes between 4 and 9 months. For more information, see: How long will my claim take?
Caring and sensitive support
Your solicitor will handle your pneumoconiosis 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.
What are the causes?
Pneumoconiosis is caused by inhalation, and retention in the lungs, of dusts. Characterised by scarring and inflammation of the lung tissue, symptoms include shortness of breath, persistent cough, fatigue, laboured and rapid breathing and chest pain.
The type of condition a person develops depends on the particular dust inhaled, as follows:
- Asbestosis - asbestos
- Silicosis - silica (found in sand, sandstone, clay, granite and slate)
- Coal worker's pneumoconiosis (black lung) - coal
- Berylliosis - beryllium
- Byssinosis - vegetable fibres (such as flax, hemp, cotton dust or sisal)
- Kaolin pneumoconiosis - kaolin (used in ceramics, paper, medicines and cosmetics)
- Siderosis (welders' lung) - iron particles
After asbestosis, the most common types are coal worker's pneumoconiosis (black lung) and silicosis.
Who is at risk?
Any individual - or group of individuals - who have been exposed to one or more of the causal dusts stated can develop pneumoconiosis. Some of the most common industries affected include: mining; construction; shipbuilding; iron; and fabric and ceramic manufacturers.
As it usually takes years to develop (10 years between past exposure and onset of symptoms), most current cases occur in retired workers and reflect past working conditions.
If a person suspects they may have work related pneumoconiosis, getting a diagnosis is an important step. Not only to access treatment, but also to demonstrate a link between the disease and a likely cause. A solicitor can help arrange an appointment with a doctor if help has not already been sought.
During this consultation relevant questions regarding current and past work history will be asked to establish whether the condition was indeed a result of exposure in a work environment.
As pneumoconiosis in the UK is a ?notifiable' disease, doctors are duty bound to notify the individual's employer (with permission) of a diagnosis who, in turn, should escalate it to the HSE.
Who can I claim against?
In the majority of cases, a claim can be made against the employer (through the employer's insurers) - even if the person affected no longer works for that company.
All employers are legally obligated to provide a safe work environment - this falls under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and, more specifically for pneumoconiosis, the Control of Hazardous Substances Act (2002).
Employers are required to carry out a full risk assessment to identify potential hazards - including dangerous dusts such as silica - and put control measures in place to protect employees who might come into contact with them. This could include installing sufficient ventilation or supplying suitable breathing apparatus.
If it occurs because an employer did not provide adequate protection from harmful dusts, their actions would be seen as negligent, making them liable.
Is the claims process straightforward?
Because the group of pneumoconiosis diseases are long-latency, it could mean that the employer is no longer trading or has relocated, so claims in this area can be more complex. For example, locating the correct employer and the correct insurer can take time.
In addition, an employer could argue that they did not know the risks at the time or that they had provided sufficient controls but the person affected did not follow them as instructed.
Engaging a solicitor in claims of this type can help make the process run more smoothly.
What kind of outcome can be expected?
Many claims have a successful outcome. Although compensation cannot change the past, it can help an individual affected to achieve quality of life relative to their suffering and losses.
In addition to claiming personal injury compensation, pneumoconiosis conditions are also covered by disablement benefit.
No win, no fee
Under a no win, no fee agreement (known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA') you can make a pneumoconiosis claim without needing to worry about upfront legal fees. If your pneumoconiosis claim is unsuccessful you won't have to pay any money to your solicitor.
No win, no fee guarantee
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is zero financial risk in making a pneumoconiosis 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 pneumoconiosis claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, only after your compensation is awarded. 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 pneumoconiosis claim?
If your pneumoconiosis claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees at all. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
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:
if you can claim
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 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 do I have to make a pneumoconiosis claim?
In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the pneumoconiosis to make an injury claim.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your pneumoconiosis claim becomes 'statute barred'.
Can I claim for a pneumoconiosis 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 pneumoconiosis compensation.
In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether a pneumoconiosis claim will be taken on by a solicitor.
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.
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 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.
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