Air Conditioning Illness Compensation Claims
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by an air conditioning illness or accident, we can help.
If your illness were caused by your employer or a co-worker, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
Claiming injury compensation with a solicitor
You can make a work illness compensation claim with the help and support of a work injury solicitor.
Your solicitor will ask you about what happened, and they will collect evidence to prove what caused your ill health. Your solicitor will also work out how much money you can claim, based on your illness, lost earnings and other expenses. By law, your employer will have insurance to cover the cost of illness claims, and your compensation will be paid out of this policy.
We can help you make a work illness claim on a No Win No Fee basis.
In this article
Many people appreciate the benefits of air-conditioning in the workplace, in public buildings and in shops and stores. It helps keep temperatures comfortable, and when properly maintained and used, air-conditioning systems remain entirely safe in the vast majority of cases.
Unfortunately, where air-conditioning units are neglected they can lead to health hazards being carried in the air that they so effectively circulate.
If a system is not properly cleaned, dust, dirt and other allergenic particles can be distributed. These may cause or exacerbate asthma, allergies and sinusitis.
The hazards may be more severe if bacteria, viruses or moulds get into the system, potentially spreading a wide variety of illnesses. The best known of these illnesses is Legionnaire's disease.
Do I have an injury claim?
It should be possible to make an injury claim if:
- you were diagnosed in the last 3 years and;
- someone else, such as your employer, was to blame.
Even if these two points don't apply to you, you may still be able to make a claim.
To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to injury claims expert on 0800 376 1001.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.
What is Legionnaire's disease?
Caused by specific water-borne bacteria called Legionella pneumophila (Legionella p.), Legionnaire's disease is a serious lung infection.
The first identified case was in a group of veterans, "the American Legion", in 1976, after whom the disease is named.
Although outbreaks are uncommon, the disease can be fatal, especially for people at risk of contracting a lung infection (pneumonia) - the elderly or those with pre-existing health conditions such as a weakened immune system.
The worst outbreak in recent years was in Edinburgh in summer 2012 when 92 cases were recorded, four of which were fatal.
How is it contracted?
Legionnaire's disease or Legionellosis is most commonly contracted when an individual inhales fine mist from a source of water contaminated with Legionella p. bacteria. It can also be contracted from drinking infected water but is not contagious, so does not pass from patient to patient.
Quite common and harmless in small numbers Legionnella p. multiply where there is organic matter such as algae, rust, scale or sludge to provide nutrients. They will not reproduce at temperatures below 20ºC (68ºF) or above 60ºC (140ºF), so are unlikely to pose a risk in cool outdoor water such as rivers, lakes or reservoirs.
Poorly maintained water-cooled air conditioning systems, humidifiers, whirlpool spas and cooling towers may provide the optimum environment in which Legionella p. can thrive.
What are the symptoms and how is it diagnosed?
Often described as flu-like, initial symptoms include chills, fever, a cough, tiredness and fatigue, headache and muscle ache and decreased appetite. There may be diarrhoea, vomiting and signs of mental confusion.
The onset typically occurs with 2-10 days of exposure to Legionnella p. bacteria
Diagnosis may be difficult as patients' chest scans and X-rays may often present as pneumonia. For a firm diagnosis additional tests (blood and urine) are required.
A milder form, Pontiac fever, has similar symptoms of muscle ache and fatigue, but the onset is earlier, being within 2 hours and up to 2 days of exposure. Patients usually recover within 2-5 days without medical treatment.
As it is classed as a 'notifiable disease' all cases of Legionnaires' disease must be reported to the local authority for investigation. This is so the source may be identified and steps taken to ensure others are not exposed.
Who can contract Legionnaire's Disease and who is at risk?
Anyone can contract Legionnaire's disease. However, the illness typically affects individuals with a compromised immune system or chronic lung diseases, smokers, or those who are middle-aged or older.
As large buildings and those with complex water systems are likely to be most at risk, anyone working or visiting such buildings may also be at risk.
Can Legionnella contamination be prevented?
Contamination can be prevented by proper maintenance of water based systems. Ensuring the system is inspected and cleaned regularly to prevent build-up of organic matter, and the temperature is kept below 20ºC (68ºF) will inhibit bacterial growth.
Systems that use air-cooled refrigerants are not susceptible to Legionnella contamination.
Is it possible to claim for compensation for Legionnaire's disease?
As Legionnaire's disease is usually contracted through the neglect of water-based systems it may be possible to bring a claim against those responsible for the systems' upkeep.
Quittance's team of solicitors have helped many claimants who have contracted the illness to make personal injury claims where negligence has been shown to be the cause.
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.
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 an injury? (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
What is the average injury compensation for an injury claim?
The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.
However, the money you would receive following an injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your injury compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life and your ability to work, and on the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
Can I claim for prescription costs?
Special damages are awarded for costs or losses incurred as a result of the air conditioning illness injury. Damages can include loss of earnings, treatment cost and any other 'out-of-pocket' expenses such as prescriptions.
Calculate my injury compensation
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an 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 injury claim could be worth now:
- Instant accurate calculation
- Checks your right to claim
- Confirms No Win, No Fee eligibility
How long does an air conditioning illness claim take?
The time needed to get compensation for an air conditioning-related illness can vary considerably.
For example, a simple liability accepted personal injury claim could be completed in a couple of months. However, if liability is denied the process might take considerably longer. On average a work-related illness claim takes between 6 and 9 months. For more information on how long your claim could take, see: How long will my claim take?
How else can a solicitor help me?
Your solicitor will handle your injury claim from the initial FREE case evaluation, through to the financial settlement.
Your solicitor will work with other specialists to provide caring and sensitive support and 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.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. Solicitors settle the vast majority of claims out of court.
Less than 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 decided by a judge or magistrate, not a jury.
Even if the claim does go to court, it is very unlikely you will have to attend.
No win, no fee
No win, no fee means that your solicitor will not charge you anything at all if your injury claim is unsuccessful. 'No win, no fee' is also known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA'.
No win, no fee guarantee
If you have been injured through no fault of your own, our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of claiming compensation for your injury. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim
What do I pay if I win my injury claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, once your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. Your solicitor will agree a success fee with you before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my injury claim?
If your injury claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees whatsoever. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
Is there a catch?
The Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) sets out the terms between you and your solicitor., No Win No Fee is a regulated activity and as such there should be no nasty surprises in the agreement. Nevertheless, it is recommended that you read the agreement carefully and ask any questions if you are unsure.
How we can help you
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning workplace illness 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
- 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday
Call us for FREE advice on 0800 376 1001, or arrange a call back from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:
- Find out
if you can claim
- No obligation
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 feel I was partly responsible for my accident?
Yes. You may still be able to claim compensation even if your actions may have contributed to the accident.
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 an injury claim?
In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the injury to make an injury claim.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your injury claim becomes 'statute barred'.
Can I claim for an injury 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.
There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 376 1001 to find out if you are still able to claim injury compensation.
In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether an injury claim will be taken on by a solicitor.
Will I have to visit a solicitor's office to start a claim?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. Personal injury claims are handled by email, post and phone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
I need the money now - what are my options?
If you are unable to work and have bills to pay, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is an advance on your compensation payment. Any amount you receive in interim payments would be deducted from your final compensation payment.
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.