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Silicosis Disease – A Guide to Claiming Compensation

Silicosis is a disease that damages the lungs. It is caused by exposure to silica and it is incurable. It may be possible to sue your employer and claim compensation for silicosis if you or a loved one has been exposed to silica at work. This guide about claiming compensation for silicosis disease will explore when you could sue your employer and how silicosis claims work.

We can help you to begin the silicosis compensation claims process starting with a free consultation. This means a legal advisor could look at the details of your case and offer legal advice at no charge. If it looks like you might be entitled to claim compensation for silicosis, a solicitor specialising in work-related cases may offer legal representation on a No Win, No Fee basis.

To find out more about how can help with silicosis at work claims, you can:

  • Phone us now on 0333 241 2519.
  • Use our live chat service (available 24 hours a day).

You’ll find out more on how to claim compensation for silicosis throughout this guide and you are welcome to contact our legal advisors at any point if you have further questions.

What Is Silicosis Disease?

Silicosis disease is a form of occupational lung disease caused by inhaling crystalline silica dust, a mineral found in various types of rock, sand, clay, and other materials. When materials containing silica are cut, ground, drilled, or disturbed, fine dust particles are released into the air. If inhaled over time, these particles can embed themselves deep into the lungs, causing inflammation and scarring of lung tissue.

This scarring reduces the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen, leading to symptoms such as:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue.

In severe cases, silicosis disease can be life-threatening.

Silicosis can develop in three forms:

  • Chronic (after years of exposure).
  • Accelerated (after higher exposure over a shorter period).
  • Acute (after a short period of high exposure).

Silicosis can also lead to a higher risk of heart failure, tuberculosis (TB), kidney disease, COPD, lung cancer, chest infections and arthritis.

There is no cure for silicosis, making prevention through proper protective equipment and adhering to health and safety measures crucial.

Can I Claim Compensation for Silicosis Disease?

Employers in any industry have a duty of care towards the well-being of their staff. This is an obligation laid out by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. When working with certain materials, including silica, they must also abide by the rules of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).

According to information from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), some of the means by which employers can comply with COSHH regulations when silica is present in the workplace include:

  • Conduct workplace risk assessments regularly.
  • Consider substituting silica-based products with alternatives where possible.
  • Implement adequate control measures to keep exposure to workplace silica below the Workplace Exposure Limits (WEL).
  • Provide PPE such as face masks or respirators where silica exposure cannot be reduced in other ways.
  • Ensure all equipment is properly maintained.
  • Train you on how to use equipment properly to reduce the risk of silica exposure.
  • Monitor dust levels to check that any safety measures are effective.

Therefore, you may have grounds to start a silicosis claim if you can demonstrate that:

  • Your employer owed you a duty of care; and
  • Their negligence caused you to be exposed to silica in the workplace; and
  • As a consequence, you have been diagnosed with silicosis in the last 3 years.

As the symptoms of silicosis may take years to develop, you could make a claim against a previous employer.

What Should I Do If I Have Developed Silicosis?

If you suspect that exposure to silica dust at work has led to silicosis disease, there are some important actions you can take to address the problem and potentially lay the foundations for a compensation claim:

  • Visit your GP and get a proper medical diagnosis and treatment.
  • Inform your current or former employer about your diagnosis.
  • Request an occupational health assessment of your workplace.

If they fail to act on your concerns or medical recommendations, you may have grounds to start a silicosis claim for any subsequent diagnosis.

What Evidence Can Be Used for Silicosis Compensation Claims?

To claim compensation for silicosis you will need to prove that a) you’ve been diagnosed with silicosis and b) your employer’s negligence makes them liable. Here are some examples of evidence that could be used to support a silicosis compensation claim:

  • A copy of your working history to help narrow down where you were exposed to silica.
  • Copies of medical records and specialist tests to help prove your diagnosis.
  • Copies of any emails or letters sent if you raised concerns about your working conditions (along with any responses).
  • Contact details for any colleagues who may be able to confirm your working practices.
  • A copy of an occupational health report if an assessment was conducted.
  • Workplace training records.

In some cases, gathering evidence from old employers can be quite a difficult ask. Working with a specialist solicitor can simplify things especially if they’ve dealt with similar cases in the past.

How Long Do I Have to Claim Silicosis Compensation?

In the UK, you typically have three years from the date you first became aware that your disease is related to your work environment to make a silicosis compensation claim. This is generally known as the ‘date of knowledge’. This could be from when you received a diagnosis from a doctor, acknowledging that your silicosis is likely due to past exposure to silica dust at work.

Because silicosis cases can be complex and the exact timing can vary depending on individual circumstances, it’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible.

silica dust exposure at work background

Take the first step towards claiming compensation for silicosis disease with our complimentary free consultation.

With 30+ years of experience, our solicitors are committed to providing a 100% No Win, No Fee claims service, offering claimants a risk-free path to pursue the compensation they deserve.

Start a Claim

Or call us on 0333 241 2519 to speak with a specialist solicitor.

What Compensation Can I Claim for Silicosis Disease?

The amount of compensation paid for silicosis is dependent on how you’ve been affected by the disease. Any pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by silicosis is covered by a head of loss called general damages. Your solicitor will use medical evidence including GP records and independent reports to help determine the level of suffering you have already endured and any future suffering.

They will then use this information to value your claim and may refer to the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG).  Our silicosis compensaton table uses JCG figures for reference. Please note, however, that the amounts listed here are not guaranteed settlements as each case is calculated on its own merits.

  • Compensation can range from £31,310 – £54,830 for silicosis causing breathing problems and requiring frequent inhaler use.
  • For a more severe diagnosis of silicosis impacting lung function and breathability, awards can range from £54,8300 – £70,030.
  • In cases where silicosis disease results in significant disability and leads to the early death of a young person, compensation can be up to £135,920.

Special damages may also be included in your silicosis payout to cover any costs associated with your illness. These could cover:

  • Present and future loss of earnings.
  • The cost of adapting your home to help you cope with the symptoms of silicosis.
  • The cost of a specially adapted vehicle to enable access for a wheelchair or oxygen tanks.
  • Support or full-time nursing care at home.
  • Travel expenses.
  • Medical treatment costs.

If you hire a specialist solicitor to help with your claim, they will ensure any financial losses are covered before you settle your silicosis claim in full.

Can I Claim On Behalf of a Loved One With Silicosis?

If a loved one lacks the mental capacity to handle a silicosis claim, you could act as their litigation friend to seek compensation on their behalf. A solicitor can help you with the application process but once you’re approved, you’ll have permission to make all decisions about the case until it is completed.

Can I Claim Compensation if a Loved One Died of Silicosis?

We realise that no level of compensation will make you feel any better about losing a loved one to work-related silicosis.

However, you might decide it’s best to file a claim for a couple of reasons.

  1. Firstly, you could seek compensation on behalf of the deceased’s estate for any pain and suffering they endured while they were ill.
  2. Secondly, you could seek compensation if you depended on the deceased financially or if you’ve incurred costs such as burial expenses.

If you’d like to find out more, please get in touch.

Do You Need a Solicitor for Silicosis Claims?

The prospect of taking on an old employer in a silicosis compensation claim can be quite daunting. As such, although you can claim alone, it might be wise to seek legal representation from a specialist solicitor.

As well as dealing with all aspects of the claim on your behalf, your solicitor is likely to negotiate a higher settlement than would otherwise be offered by your employer’s insurers. They will also search for the evidence needed to present your case and fight any objections that are raised.

If a solicitor from our panel offers you legal representation for your silicosis claim and you want to proceed, they’ll be working on a No Win, No Fee basis. Therefore, before they get to work on your case, you’ll be sent a Conditional Fee Agreement to sign.

The CFA means you don’t pay your solicitor upfront for their work and you won’t pay them if the case fails.

However, if silicosis compensation is awarded, a success fee is then deducted from the settlement. So that you retain the bulk of the compensation payout, success fee percentages are legally capped at 25 per cent of your award.

Will The Claim Go to Court?

In the main, solicitors specialising in industrial diseases will work hard to settle a silicosis claim out-of-court. This avoids the time and expense of court hearings and could result in achieving a settlement sooner.

However, some silicosis compensation claims will need to go to court because:

  • The employer contests liability for the disease; or
  • A settlement offer by the employer is deemed to be far too low to cover all of your suffering.

While No Win, No Fee solicitors will always negotiate hard to avoid court, they could request a hearing as a last resort.

Contacting Us About a Silicosis Claim

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with silicosis disease and would like to clarify what options you have, you can:

  • Call 0333 241 2519 to discuss your case.
  • Connect to our free live chat service at any time.

There’s no obligation to start a compensation claim after your free initial consultation. However, if your claim is feasible, a solicitor may offer to file a No Win, No Fee silicosis claim on your behalf.

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