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Howard Willis

Panel Solicitor

A guide to making a No Win No Fee weil's disease claim

Weil's disease, a severe form of leptospirosis, is rare in the UK. According to the NHS, less than 40 cases are reported each year. Only 10 per cent of these go onto develop Weil's disease. For those that do, the symptoms are very unwelcome and can impact hugely on a person's life and health.

If an individual contracts Weil's disease through exposure caused by third party negligence they could be entitled to compensation. Certain working environments are the most common culprits. But who is liable?

Understanding Weil's disease

A bacterial infection caused by the bacteria leptospira, Weil's disease can infect all the major organs, including the kidney, liver, heart, lungs and brain. Animals, such as cattle, pigs and rats, are the main carriers of the bacteria, however they can pass it to humans - predominantly through infected urine.

Humans can develop it when infected water or soil comes into contact with their eyes, nose, mouth or an open cut. It is also possible to contract it through rodent bites, drinking contaminated water or, rarely, animal blood.

In leptospirosis' milder form, diagnosis can be difficult as similar symptoms present in many illnesses. For Weil's disease diagnosis can be much easier.

Diagnosing Weil's disease

Establishing a clear diagnosis of Weil's disease is an important first step in any Weil's disease compensation claim. As Weil's disease is most common in people who come into contact with animals, including rodents, or fresh water sources such as lakes or rivers, a personal history is helpful in a diagnosis.

If a person displaying the symptoms of Weil's disease is employed in a work environment which exposes them, occupation would usually be identified as the cause. Other possible causes include leisure activities, such as freshwater fishing or private ownership of animals.

Common occupations in Weil's disease compensation claims include:

  • Farmers Vets
  • Sewerage workers
  • Abattoir workers
  • Pest control experts
  • Professional freshwater divers
  • Waste disposal workers
  • Construction workers
  • Butchers

Who is liable in Weil's disease compensation claims?

Once a medical diagnosis of Weil's disease has been confirmed, and the cause identified, liability can be apportioned. In cases where the infection was contracted in the workplace -which is the most common type of claim - the employer is usually liable if it can be proved that the disease was contracted as a result of their negligence.

Employers have a legal duty to protect their employees. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, requires that employers carry out a full risk assessment of the work environment, identifying possible dangers and people at risk and putting safety and control measures in place.

For leptospirosis and Weil's disease specifically, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides specific guidance on what can be done to minimise risk. This includes:

  • Consulting with vets about cattle/animal infection
  • Dealing with rat infestations
  • Advising employees to wash cuts and graze immediately and wear waterproof plasters
  • Providing protective clothing

If an employer failed to carry out these requirements, and an employee contracts Weil's disease as a result, they could be held liable. Once advised of a claim, an employee may admit or deny it. They may also argue ?contributory negligence', for example if they believe the person affected may have not been following procedures as instructed.

How they respond will affect how the compensation process progresses. A personal injury solicitor will usually try to aim for an out of Court settlement.

Why compensation is vital in Weil's disease cases

For those that do contract leptospirosis, the affects can be very unwelcome. Initially leptospirosis is flu-like in its manifestation. However it can develop, over just a few days, into Weil's disease.

Recognised symptoms include: jaundice; decreased urine; painful swelling of the liver, breathing difficulties, weight loss and swollen ankles, feet or hands. Urgent medical attention is often required. If treatment is not sought, it can result in meningitis and organ failure.

Whatever kind of symptoms the person affected has experienced, they will likely require medication, such as penicillin or corticosteroids, and supportive care. They will also have to take time off work and spend time away from their daily life and activities. Compensation will help cover these associated losses.

How much is received will depend on a variety of factors, including the severity of the symptoms and the prognosis.

How does No Win, No Fee work for Weil's disease compensation claims?

A No Win, No Fee agreement, referred to as a CFA or Conditional Fee Agreement, is the beginning of a personal injury claim.

A CFA details the service the solicitor will provide, and importantly, a percentage-based "success fee". This will be the percentage to be taken from the compensation when the solicitor wins the claim.

You have absolutely no hidden fees when choosing a a Quittance solicitor. You can prioritise your rest and recovery, knowing that there will be absolutely nothing to pay at the outset.

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