A Guide to Claiming Air Conditioning Illness Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by an air conditioning illness or accident we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered an air conditioning illness or accident and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
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 air conditioning illness claim?
It should be possible to make an air conditioning illness claim if:
- you were diagnosed in the last three 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 612 7456.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.
You can also find out if you have a claim with our Online Claim Checker.
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 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 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 air conditioning illness? (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 air conditioning illness 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 air conditioning illness will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your air conditioning illness compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
See the injury table above for some examples.
Should I set up a personal injury trust?
If you are receiving means-tested benefits and are awarded compensation following an air conditioning illness injury, your benefits could be affected. In order to ring fence your compensation and protecting your benefits, you may be able to set up a "Personal Injury Trust" or "PI Trust". Read more: Should I set up a personal injury trust?
Air conditioning illness compensation calculator
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an air conditioning illness 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 air conditioning illness claim could be worth now:
How long does an air conditioning illness claim take?
The length of 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?
Will I still be able to claim for an air conditioning illness after the law changes in April 2020?
The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.
You will no longer be able to claim no win, no fee compensation using a solicitor for lower value claims (under £5,000).
In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.
Caring and sensitive support
Your solicitor will handle your air conditioning illness claim 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. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
Can I get Legal Aid?
Legal aid is no longer available when making a personal injury claim, but a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win, No Fee) can reduce the financial risks of making a claim.
How can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, 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, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.
Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:
if you can claim
to start a claim
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.
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.
How long do I have to make an air conditioning illness claim?
In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the air conditioning illness to make an injury claim.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your air conditioning illness claim becomes 'statute barred'.
Can I claim for an air conditioning illness 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 612 7456 to find out if you are still able to claim air conditioning illness compensation.
In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether an air conditioning illness claim will be taken on by a solicitor.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the 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.
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.
Can I get an early compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
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.
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.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert