Siderosis compensation claims
The following article looks at what you need to know about making a siderosis compensation claim.
Siderosis is one of a group of lung diseases known as pneumoconiosis. It is caused by iron overload in the lungs as a consequence of inhaling iron dust, usually over a long period of exposure. According to the British Medical Journal, around 7% of arc welders are diagnosed with the disease.
Siderosis claims fall within the category of industrial disease compensation claims. Workers and former workers who have been diagnosed with siderosis may be entitled to make a claim for compensation against their employer.
Siderosis is caused by the inhalation of iron particles. The disease typically presents in metalworkers who might breathe in the iron dust that is emitted in welding fumes when there is insufficient ventilation in the area. For this reason, siderosis is commonly known as welder's lung.
For many patients, siderosis is a benign disease. This means that the patient may experience only minor symptoms and lung function is not usually affected. Other patients may display a variety of chronic symptoms including:
- Chest pains
- Asthma symptoms
- Breathing difficulties.
In severe cases, welders may develop pneumonia, a serious lung infection or total body iron overload. Diagnosis is by way of chest X-ray, scans and breathing tests. Treatment will depend on what, if any, symptoms emerge.
Getting an independent medical assessment of the potential symptoms of siderosis is a key step in the claims process. This ensures that the compensation settlement reflects the long-term prognosis for the condition and the effect it will have on the claimant's life.
I have a strong claim - why won't a solicitor take it on?
Employers have a legal duty to minimise a worker's exposure to fumes and dust in the workplace. If a potentially hazardous work task cannot be eliminated, employers should take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of a worker developing siderosis, for example by:
- Ensuring that the work area has sufficient extraction equipment
- Supplying personal protective equipment such as a mask and respiratory aids.
Where an employer has not done everything they reasonably could to provide a safe working environment, and the employee has developed welder's lung as a result, a claim for compensation may be brought. Failing to provide suitable protective equipment is likely to be such a breach.
Siderosis claims must be brought within three years of:
- The date of exposure to iron dust; or
- The date the claimant first became aware of the illness following a diagnosis.
Siderosis can take ten years or more to develop. By the time a diagnosis is made, the claimant's former employer may have gone out of business.
In this scenario, a claim may still be made. The injury lawyer can help with tracing the parties responsible for the illness and their insurers using the Employers' Lliability Tracing Office and records held at Companies House. The insurance company will be responsible for paying the compensation.
The level of compensation award depends on a variety of factors, including the conditions of employment, the severity of the illness and the effect the siderosis will have on the claimant's quality of life. The claimant's age is also relevant. Younger claimant typically receive more compensation than older claimants to reflect the fact that they must live with the condition for a longer period of time.
Based on past decisions of the Court, a severe and chronic lung condition within the pneumoconiosis family could result in a compensation amount totalling between £35,000 and £87,000.
A no win no fee arrangement (technically called a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA) is entered into between a claimant and a PI solicitor.
A no win no fee agreement is the terms and conditions under which the solicitor is instructed by the claimant.
It sets out what the solicitor will do and how he or she will be remunerated if the case is won.
If you use a Quittance Personal Injury solicitor for your siderosis compensation claim there are absolutely no extra costs in the terms and conditions , no up-front fees and the reassurance that you will never be out of pocket.
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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.
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