If pneumoconiosis has set you back, we'll help you move forward
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by pneumoconiosis, we can help. If your injuries were caused by someone else's actions or negligence, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.
In this article
You are not alone
An estimated 12,000 lung disease deaths are reported every year, with 40% of these resulting from asbestosis and mesothelioma (hse.gov.uk).
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 several thousand asbestosis cases a year. Excluding asbestosis, there were 135 estimated new cases of pneumoconiosis seen by chest physicians in the same year (THOR-SWORD).
If you have been diagnosed with a form of pneumoconiosis, and your disease was caused by your employer's (or former employer's) negligence, you will usually be entitled to claim compensation.
If you decide to make a pneumoconiosis claim, your personal injury solicitor will take you through every step of the claims process. Your solicitor will be with you until you win your claim and get the compensation you deserve.
For information on lung disease symptoms and treatment, visit: lung healthchecks (nhs.uk).
Am I entitled to make a pneumoconiosis claim?
In general, you can claim compensation if you were hurt:
- in the last 3 years,
- by someone elses actions or negligence, and
- they owed you a 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.
How long do I have to claim pneumoconiosis compensation?
An injury claim will usually need to be made within 3 years of the date or your accident or injury.
If your injury or illness is not immediately apparent, the 3-year time limit starts from the date that you injury or illness was diagnosed and your were informed of the likely caused.
How much compensation can I claim for a pneumoconiosis?
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
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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 awarded to compensate you for any costs or losses you've incurred or might incur as a result of your accident. These costs might include lost wages or business losses (if you're self-employed), and any other out of pocket expenses.
Special damages may also be awarded for medical treatments or procedures that you might need to treat your pneumoconiosis, including oxygen therapy, inhalers, medication and pulmonary rehabilitation.
Average pneumoconiosis general damages compensation
The following pneumoconiosis payouts refer to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, Sixteenth Edition by the Judicial College.These tables are used by solicitors or by the courts as a starting point when calculating your compensation.
Please note: these average figures represent general damages only, and do not include any element of special damages (e.g. lost wages).
|Lung disease||Minor||Short-term aggravation of bronchitis or other chest infection||Up to £4,840|
|Lung disease||Moderate||Non-permanent lung conditions||Up to £4,840|
|Lung disease||Moderate||Slight breathlessness recovery in a few years||£9,670 to £18,910|
|Lung disease||Serious||Bronchitis and wheezing||£18,910 to £28,460|
|Lung disease||Serious||Emphysema||£49,850 to £63,660|
|Lung disease||Serious||Breathing difficulties needing use of an inhaler||£28,460 to £49,850|
|Lung disease||Severe||Life-threatening disease affecting a young person||£91,520 to £123,560|
|Lung disease||Severe||Lung cancer causing severe pain and impairment||£63,660 to £88,480|
What causes pneumoconiosis?
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 has been exposed to one or more of the dusts or chemicals linked to the disease could develop pneumoconiosis.
Some of the most common industries affected by pneumoconiosis include:
- Iron working
- Fabric and ceramic manufacturers
As it usually takes years to develop (over 10 years between past exposure and onset of symptoms), most cases now occur in retired workers and reflect historic working conditions.
If you suspect you could have or are at risk of developing work-related pneumoconiosis, speaking to a medical specialist is an important step.
Medical advice will help you access treatment and can also to demonstrate a link between the disease and likely causes. A solicitor can help arrange an appointment with a doctor if help has not already been sought.
What questions will the specialist ask?
During a medical consultation, the doctor will ask questions regarding your current job and past work history, to establish whether your 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, the employer should escalate it to the HSE.
Who can I claim pneumoconiosis compensation from?
In the majority of cases, a claim would be made against the employer (or the employer's insurers) - even if you no longer work for that company.
All employers are legally obliged 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).
How do I know if my employer was negligent?
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 your disease occurs because your employer did not provide adequate protection from harmful dusts, their actions would be seen as negligent, making them liable for your condition.
Is the pneumoconiosis claims process straightforward?
Because the 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.
Your solicitor will have experience identifying the employer or insurer responsible for your compensation, and will handle any attempts to dispute liability for your condition.
What kind of outcome can I expect?
Many pneumoconiosis claims have a successful outcome. Your solicitor will give you an idea at the start of the process regarding your approximate chances of success.
Although compensation cannot change the past, it can help you achieve a better quality of life and manage your condition with professional support and specialist treatment.
In addition to claiming personal injury compensation, pneumoconiosis conditions are also covered by disablement benefit.
Employers' liability claims claims
Work-related illness claims are also known as employers' liability claims. Click on the icons below for more information:
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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.