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Occupational COPD – A Guide to Claiming Compensation

If you’ve been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), you’ll no doubt know about the impact it can have on your life and how it can also affect your loved ones. Importantly, if your COPD diagnosis is work-related, it may be possible for you to claim compensation from your employer. Therefore, this guide to claiming compensation for occupational COPD will explore when you might be entitled to compensation and how much compensation for COPD could be awarded.

We are ready to help if you or a loved one has COPD and is interested in claiming compensation. We offer a free initial consultation where you can discuss your claim with a specialist and receive no-obligation legal advice. Also, if your claim appears to be feasible, you could be represented by one of our No Win, No Fee solicitors which should make your claim easier and a lot less stressful.

To talk with us about your COPD claim, please:

  • Call our team on 0333 241 2519.
  • Use our free live chat service.

Seeking legal advice promptly following a diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease can greatly enhance the chances of getting compensation for your pain, suffering, and financial losses incurred.

What Is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. It’s characterised by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow, primarily due to the narrowing of the small airways and destruction of lung tissue. COPD is most commonly caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter.

While it is common in older smokers, COPD can also be linked to lung damage caused by exposure to certain substances in the workplace.

The main symptoms of COPD include:

  • A chesty cough that’s accompanied by phlegm and persists over time.
  • Shortness of breath – especially when you’re more active than normal i.e. when climbing the stairs.
  • Persistent wheezing.
  • Chest infections that are more frequent than normal.
  • Fatigue and weight loss.
  • Oedema – swollen ankles caused by fluid build-up.
  • Chest pain.

Usually, the symptoms of COPD get worse and worse which then makes it harder to carry on with your normal activities. While COPD cannot be cured, some treatments are available to reduce its severity.

Common Causes of Occupational COPD

Occupational COPD in the UK is often a consequence of long-term exposure to harmful substances in the workplace. These substances can irritate and damage the lungs, leading to the development of COPD over time. Common causes of work-related COPD include:

  • Dust Exposure: Working environments with high levels of dust, particularly organic and inorganic dust, can significantly contribute to the development of COPD. Industries such as construction, woodworking, mining, and textile manufacturing are notable for their high dust levels.
  • Chemical Vapours and Fumes: Exposure to various chemical vapours, fumes, and irritants can also lead to COPD. This includes working with or near chemicals such as isocyanates (used in paints and foams), welding fumes, and solvents used in industrial processes.
  • Coal and Silica Dust: Workers in mining, especially coal mining, can inhale dust particles that lead to lung diseases, including COPD. Similarly, exposure to silica dust in occupations involving stone cutting, mining, or working with products containing silica, can also cause COPD.
  • Agricultural Work: Farmers and other agricultural workers are exposed to a variety of lung irritants, including dust from crops and animal feed, pesticides, and other chemicals, which can lead to COPD.

Although these are some of the most common causes and at-risk industries, you could claim for a COPD in any role so long as your work can be linked to your diagnosis.

Can I Claim Compensation for Occupational COPD?

Employers have a responsibility under the HASAW to protect their workers from hazardous workplace exposures and to ensure a safe working environment to minimise the risk of industrial diseases like COPD.

As such, to prevent work-related COPD employers should consider making changes to the working environment which might include:

  • Providing face masks, breathing apparatus or other forms of personal protective equipment.
  • Improving ventilation in the workplace.
  • Consider working with other materials where possible.
  • Allow staff regular rest breaks away from the irritants.

If your employer has failed to uphold their legal responsibilities and your COPD diagnosis can be linked to that failure, you could be entitled to begin a compensation claim for any subsequent suffering.

If you’d like to check whether you have grounds to claim COPD compensation from a current or former employer, please call today.

What Should I Do If I’m Suffering Symptoms of Work-Related COPD?

If you’re starting to notice any COPD-type symptoms which could be related to your work, you could:

  • Tell your employer (in writing) about your symptoms and suggest changes that could reduce them.
  • Speak to your GP if you’re concerned about your health.
  • Let your employer know about any changes suggested by your doctor.

By letting your employer know about how your work is affecting you, they’ll have the chance to make adjustments to your role to reduce any risks. Failure to do anything at all could be deemed negligent and this could enable you to claim for any suffering linked to a subsequent COPD diagnosis.

What Evidence Can Be Used to Prove a COPD Claim?

You will need to present as strong a case as possible if you’re to be compensated for any suffering caused by occupational COPD. It will need to prove that your diagnosis is linked to your working environment and the extent of your suffering. Some examples of evidence you could use include:

  • Witness statements from colleagues. These could help to confirm working conditions or that others have also been diagnosed with COPD.
  • Any correspondence (emails, text messages, letters) you’ve received from your employer about your condition.
  • Medical records from your GP to help prove your prognosis and diagnosis.
  • Workplace photographs or videos.
  • A list of your working history to help confirm where you have been exposed to COPD-related irritants.

If you decide to claim compensation for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease with one of our solicitors, they may seek out additional evidence to go along with yours if required as part of their service.

How Long Do I Have to Claim COPD Compensation?

In UK law, you have 3-years to make a personal injury claim according to the Limitation Act 1980.

As COPD can take many years to develop, the 3-year time limit for claiming COPD compensation normally starts from the date your condition was diagnosed or when you first recognised the symptoms rather than when you were initally exposed to irritants.

As such, if it’s been less than 3 years since your doctor confirmed that your breathing problems are COPD-related, please contact our team to discuss your chances of being compensated.

work-related COPD background

Take the first step towards claiming compensation for work-related COPD with our complimentary free consultation.

With 30+ years of experience, our solicitors provide a 100% No Win, No Fee COPD claims service, giving claimants a risk-free way to pursue the compensation they deserve.

Start a Claim

Call us on 0333 241 2519 to speak with a legal advisor.

What Compensation Can I Claim for COPD?

Any COPD compensation you receive will generally depend on the extent of your pain, suffering and loss of amenity (general damages) and any costs associated with your illness (special damages).

Therefore, it’s important that any suffering you’ve endured and any that will occur in the future is documented properly before your COPD claim is submitted. For that reason, your solicitor will obtain a copy of your medical records during the claims process. They will also book an appointment with an independent specialist.

In the meeting, the specialist will run some tests, examine you and talk with you about how COPD has affected your usual activities. Their report will be forwarded as evidence to help both parties involved in your claim put a value on your suffering.

On top of the physical and emotional suffering linked to COPD, you could also claim for any associated costs and financial losses, for instance:

  • The cost of modifying your home i.e. the installation of a stairlift if your symptoms make it difficult to climb stairs normally.
  • Ongoing medical costs.
  • Lost income and future loss of earnings.
  • The cost of a carer or nursing at home.
  • Travel costs.

To learn how much compensation for COPD you might be entitled to, call our legal advisors now.

Can I Claim Compensation for COPD If I’m Not a Full-Time Employee?

Earlier, we discussed the duty of care employers owe to their staff with regard to health and safety at work. It’s important to point out that duty is owed to all workers regardless of their employment contract.

As such, if your employer’s negligence has caused your COPD, you could claim compensation as a self-employed worker, contractor, agency worker, zero-hours worker or consultant.

If you’d like us to confirm your eligibility to claim compensation for occupational COPD, please feel free to get in touch with our team.

Do You Need a Solicitor for COPD Compensation Claims?

You have the option to claim compensation against your employer for COPD without instructing a solicitor. However, the claims process can be difficult to navigate and you are likely to face objections from the insurance company who represents your employer.

As such, it can be beneficial to take on your own legal representation. If you take on a solicitor, their knowledge of the claims process can not only simplify the process but could also lead to an increased compensation payout.

Some of the services offered by our solicitors may include:

  • Collecting evidence to strengthen your case.
  • Filing your claim correctly and within the allowed time limits.
  • Fighting your case on your behalf and handling any objections raised by your employer.
  • Sending regular updates to keep you informed about any progress in your claim.
  • Negotiating as fair a settlement for COPD as possible rather than accepting a low offer so that the claim can be settled quickly.

Importantly, if your COPD claim is taken on, all of your solicitor’s work will be conducted on a No Win, No Fee basis. That means that you:

  • Won’t need to pay upfront for your solicitor’s work.
  • Don’t need to pay anything for your solicitor’s time and effort if the claim is lost.
  • Will pay a success fee if your claim is won.

The type of contract used for COPD claims by our solicitors is called a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). Legally, if you use a CFA to fund your solicitor’s work, the highest percentage of your compensation that’s allowed to be used as a success fee is 25 per cent.

To see if you are entitled to make a No Win, No Fee COPD compensation claim, please contact our legal advisors now.

Do Work-Related COPD Claims Go to Court?

Court cases can be expensive and take a long time. For that reason, most work injury claims are settled out of court because lawyers and insurance companies reach an amicable agreement.

However, in some cases, COPD claims can end up in court. That might be the case if:

  • Your solicitor strongly believes that your claim is winnable; but
  • Your employer does not accept that they are liable for your suffering; or
  • Their insurance provider has offered a settlement that does not cover all of your suffering.

If your claim is handled by one of our solicitors and it does require a court hearing, you’ll be supported every step of the way.

Contacting Us About a COPD Compensation Claim

We’re ready to support you if you would like to discuss your options with regard to a COPD compensation claim. You can request a free initial consultation to discuss your case by:

  • Calling our legal advisors on 0333 241 2519.
  • Using our free live chat service.

While there’s no obligation to proceed, any COPD claims accepted by our specialist solicitors are handled on a No Win, No Fee basis.

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