A Guide to Claiming Air Conditioning Illness Compensation

This guide considers what you need to know about making a successful air conditioning illness compensation claim.


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.

Air conditioning units

Do I have a air conditioning illness claim?

As a basic rule, you will be eligible to make a air conditioning illness claim if you were injured:

  • in the last three years and;
  • someone else was to blame.

If these two points don't apply to you, a compensation claim may still be a possibility.

To get a definitive answer, you can speak to a legal expert on 0800 612 7456.

A brief phone consultation will confirm whether you have a claim. We will not put you under pressure to make a compensation claim.

Alternatively you can try our Online Claim Checker.

Check my claim online

What if it was a criminal incident?

If your Air Conditioning Illness injury resulted from a criminal incident, you can pursue a claim via the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). The CICA must receive your application within 2 years of the Incident Date.

Read more

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 air conditioning illness claim on their own behalf.

Read more about claiming injury compensation on behalf of a child.

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.

How much compensation can I claim for a air conditioning illness?

The amount of money you could claim for your air conditioning illness 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 air conditioning illness 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

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

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

See a list of what you can claim for:

Examples of special damages include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

Find out what your claim could be worth now

Assessing a claim's value at the outset can be complicated.

If you would like a FREE claim estimate with no obligation to start a claim, call 0800 612 7456.

Alternatively, our compensation calculator will give you an instant estimate of what your claim is worth.

Calculate my injury claim

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your air conditioning illness case 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.

No win, no fee

No win, no fee means that your solicitor will not charge you anything at all if your air conditioning illness 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 air conditioning illness injury.

What do I pay if I win my air conditioning illness 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 air conditioning illness claim?

If your air conditioning illness claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees whatsoever.

Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

How can Quittance help?

Our highly experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning workplace illness claims. Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you.

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:

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Air Conditioning Illness FAQ's

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.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

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.

Read more about claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

How long will my claim take?

The length of time needed to secure compensation can vary considerably.

For example, straightforward car accident claims can settle in a matter of weeks, whereas complex medical negligence cases can take years.

Injury claims can also take longer if it is not clear who is responsible for your injury, or if liability is denied by the defendant.

Taken from average case times, this table sets out approximately how long personal injury claims take to settle:

Personal injury claim type

Estimated claim duration*

Road accident claims

4 to 9 months

Work accident claims

6 to 9 months

Medical negligence claims

12 to 36 months

Industrial disease claims

12 to 18 months

Public place or occupiers’ liability claims

6 to 9 months

MIB claims (uninsured drivers)

3 to 4 months**

CICA claims (criminal assault)

12 to 18 months**

*RTA and other claims processed through the Ministry of Justice portal can settle faster.
**Official Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) Government agency and Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) figures.

Read more about how long personal injury claims take.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by Quittance’s 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.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

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.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

Can I get an interim compensation payment?

If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim interim compensation payments.

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.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert