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Industrial Disease Claims

If you’ve ever worked in an environment where you’ve been exposed to dangerous substances or unsafe conditions resulting in a medical condition or illness, then you may be entitled to make an Industrial Disease Claim for compensation.

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Am I Entitled to Make an Industrial Disease Claim?

As with any other type of personal injury, the extent of industrial diseases can vary quite significantly from one person to another. However, with over 30 years’ experience in the legal industry, the team at Smith Jones Solicitors are here to help you, whatever the extent of your illness might be. Have you or someone close to you is suffering due to unsafe working conditions? We have helped many clients reach settlements with current and former employers including in occupational disease claims.

 

If your medical condition either hinders or stops you from working altogether – and this results from an industrial disease – then it’s likely that you’ll be able to claim compensation against your employer (or more specifically, their insurers).

 

If you have been unfortunate enough to suffer a work-related disease, our team can provide you with the advice and assistance you need. To begin making a claim, call us for free on 0800 195 95 90 and discuss your situation with a member of our expert team.

Our team of expert lawyers can help you with all types of industrial compensation claims.

 

  • Industrial Disease List
  • Repetitive strain injury claims (‘RSI’)
  • Dermatitis and skin conditions or diseases
  • Vibration white finger claims (‘VFW’) and hand/arm vibration syndrome
  • Industrial accident claims
  • Respiratory and lung disease (including asthma)
  • Occupational cancer
  • Industrial deafness
  • Silicosis
  • Latex allergies
  • Asbestos-related disease
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Industrial Disease Claims – More Information

Will I Lose My Job If I Claim?

If you’ve suffered any type of injury at work (including an industrial disease), then you’re entitled to make a claim against your employer without any consequences whatsoever.

 

Fortunately, there are certain legal safeguards in place to protect you against any unfair dismissal procedures.  What’s more, whatever the outcome of your case might be, your employer can’t simply dismiss you on the grounds that you’ve attempted to make a claim against them – nor can they discriminate against you, either during the claims process or when (and if) you decide to return to work.

 

 

Industrial Disease Claims After Death

Can someone make a claim on my behalf if I die as a result of an industrial disease?

 

If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to consider a claim in respect of a loved one who has passed away, then Smith Jones can help you every step of the way.  For example, if someone who hasn’t claimed Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefits passes away but would otherwise have qualified for the benefit, then our team can help any close relatives (such as a widow, or widower) to make a claim.  Alternatively, if someone who was previously in receipt of the benefit passes away, then we can provide advice on how any outstanding benefit can be paid out to either an executor or next of kin.

 

It may be, of course, the deceased hadn’t previously made a claim for an industrial disease (or it may not have been diagnosed until the time of death).  Either way, you can count on both our compassion and expertise to help you with the whole industrial disease compensation claims process.

 

 

What Are COPD Government Benefits?

COPD is an abbreviation for ‘Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease’.  This disease affects the lungs, can block the airflow and usually affects your ability to breathe.  The most two common conditions of COPD tend to be chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and the severity of each condition can vary quite significantly.

 

You may be entitled to claim benefits in respect of your lung condition if you have certain care or mobility needs, are unable to work or care for someone who has been diagnosed with a lung condition. Each benefit type has different qualifying rules although these are loosely categorised as follows:

  1. Means-tested or non-means tested – i.e. any benefit will take into account any other benefits you might claim (or will be entitled to claim) together with any income you might receive
  2. Contributory or non-contributory – i.e. you’ve paid the required amount of national insurance contributions

 

There’s also a limit as to how much people between the age of 16 and 64 are able to claim.  This is referred to as the ‘benefits cap’.  However, this may not apply in certain cases – for example, if anyone in your household receives certain benefits (such as attendance allowance, personal independence payments or working tax credit).

 

That said, there are various Government benefits which can become payable in respect of lung conditions including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Personal independence payments
  • Disability living allowance
  • Attendance allowance
  • Statutory sick pay
  • Employment and support allowance
  • Universal credit
  • Industrial injuries disablement benefit
  • Carer’s allowance (or carer’s credit)
  • Income support
  • Tax credits
  • Pension credit
  • Housing benefit
  • Council tax reduction

 

You may also be able to receive assistance with prescription charges and heating costs (such as winter fuel payments, cold weather payments and access to the warm home discount scheme).

 

 

Can I Still Claim If The Company Is No Longer Trading?

Yes.  You can still bring a claim against a former employer, even if they’re no longer trading.  This is because all employers have to comply with the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969.  This basically means that they had to carry adequate insurance in respect of their employees and more specifically, any future claims that might be brought against them.

 

What’s more, it doesn’t matter whether you no longer have their contact details as we can quite easily trace your former employer through the Employers’ Liability Tracing Office.

 

 

What Is Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit?

The Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit can be paid to anyone who becomes ill or disabled as a result of any worked-related activity. Typical claims for the benefit include claimants who have:

  • Contracted a disease caused by working with asbestos
  • Worked as a miner for 10 years or more and contracted osteoarthritis of the knee
  • Suffered from either asthma or chronic bronchitis as a result of their job role

 

The scheme covers more than 70 separate diseases and is regulated by the Social Security Act 1998, the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 and the Social Security Administration Act 1992.

 

The benefit is only payable to those in paid employment at the time of the illness or disease occurred (or were attending an approved employment training scheme).  It doesn’t apply to anyone self-employed and must have occurred within England, Scotland or Wales.

If the benefit is paid at 100% (i.e. the claimant requires daily care and attention) then they might also be able to claim Constant Attendance Allowance, which is payable at four different rates.  What’s more, sufferers of certain diseases may also be entitled to claim a payment under the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers Compensation) Act 1979.

 

 

Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is a term used to group together a number of soft tissue injuries that are normally caused by the repetition of a specific action or trauma. You can read more about it here.

 

 

Dermatitis and Skin Conditions

Occupational dermatitis and eczema are caused when an employee’s skin comes into contact with an allergen or an irritating substance.  These can include, detergents, diesel, greases, oils, petrol, soaps and other chemicals.   Prolonged contact with water can also cause these skin conditions.

 

If you have developed eczema or dermatitis and believe you have done so through your line of work, then you might be eligible to claim compensation.  You need to contact us at Smith Jones and speak to one of our team who can talk you through the process.

 

What are some of the symptoms?

Some of the main symptoms of occupational eczema or dermatitis are severe dryness and itchiness. Very often these two things then lead to blisters, painful sores and skin infections. Quite simply, your employer does have a duty of care to protect you against the risks of working with any substances (hazardous or otherwise) that may cause dermatitis or other skin conditions.

 

Your employer should be providing you with protective equipment if you are working with materials that may cause occupational dermatitis.  If you haven’t been provided with protective equipment and think you are or know you are suffering from occupational dermatitis then you may be able to claim.

 

This also applies to situations where you have been given the wrong protective equipment.

 

What should your employer be doing?

When it comes to occupational dermatitis, your employer does have a duty of care to their employees under the Health and Safety at Work Act.   They have to protect their employees from health risks in the workplace, and one of those is occupational eczema and dermatitis.

 

The team here at Smith Jones works hard to ensure that you understand the process and the next steps.  So if you think you might be eligible to make a claim then contact us.

 

Under the 2002 Control of Hazardous to Health Regulations an employer should carry out a risk assessment if any of their employees work with substances that could cause any skin conditions. If after the risk assessment, a risk is discovered, then as the employer they should make sure it is controlled.  As employees, you should be provided with the necessary information and personal protective equipment (often known as PPE) to work in a safe environment.

 

The most common forms of PPE are: 

  •       Boots
  •       Gloves
  •       Masks
  •       Overalls

 

Whilst it is crucial your employer does provide you with PPE, part of their duty is to ensure that it is the correct PPE for the job you are doing.  For example, fabric overalls might not provide adequate protection if working with liquids.

 

So if your employer has failed to give you information on the substances that can cause these skin conditions and how to avoid them, as well as failing to provide you with equipment or has provided you with the wrong equipment then you may be eligible to claim.  Your employer’s negligence could have put you at risk of a serious skin condition.

 

How do claim against my employer for occupational dermatitis?

First of all, if you believe you do have a potential claim against your employer then you need to contact the team as soon as possible.  This is because there are very specific time frames in which someone can bring a Personal Injury claim and so we may need to act quickly.

 

When you contact us we will discuss your condition, your work environment, job role and the substances you believe you were exposed.  We will also discuss whether we think you do have a claim.   You then can decide whether you do want to proceed with bringing a claim and we can discuss next steps and what we require from you.

 

We always keep our clients informed at every stage of the industrial disease claims process. If we do think you have a strong case then there are usually 4 stages to go through:

 

Stage 1 is when we gather as much information as we can.  You will see an expert in dermatology and have a medical examination where they will assess your symptoms.  This includes the extent and severity of them, their cause and most importantly whether you are suffering from occupational eczema or dermatitis.

Remember that you don’t have to have the worst case scenario to bring a claim.  You can be suffering from a range of symptoms and that very often depends on what substances your skin has been exposed to.

 

Stage 2 is ensuring you are being treated for the condition.   If the expert concludes that you require any care or support needs we will help you access the correct medical treatment and any rehabilitative treatment as well.

Normally, eczema and dermatitis are treated with medication and other skin treatments.  If you are suffering from a more severe reaction then sometimes you will be recommended to have phototherapy (which is an ultraviolet light treatment).   We will make sure that we work with the experts to ensure you receive the best and most appropriate treatment for your condition.

 

Stage 3 involves compensation.  The team would then calculate how much compensation we believe you are entitled to.  In assessing your claim we will consider:

  •       The severity of your condition
  •       The medical expenses you’ve had to pay to date (and any you will have to pay in the future)
  •       Your current pain and suffering
  •       Your occupation and the impact this condition has on your ability to work.

 

We would then put forward your case to your employer (or your former employer).  We appreciate that it can be a daunting experience bringing a claim against them, but we will do everything we can to make this an easy and comfortable situation for you.

 

In an ideal scenario your employer would accept blame early on, but if they do not and they contest the claim then your case may end up being settled in court.   In the most part, these types of cases do settle out of court.  If the case was going to require a court appearance we would ensure you were aware of the process and what was expected of you as well as being with you every step of the way.

 

Stage 4 is when your case should be finalised.  This means that if you have been successful, either in or out of court, then you will receive compensation.  Our fees should mostly be paid by the other side, and only a small proportion would need to be taken from your settlement to cover any shortfall.

 

We will discuss our fee arrangements with you when we have our first conversation, so you are aware of the process, should you wish to proceed.

 

 

Vibration White Finger (VFW)

This is also known as hand-arm vibration syndrome and is a very common industrial injury.  It is caused when an employee is exposed to the regular and extended use of vibrating tools. If you believe that you have developed this condition during your employment then contact the team at Smith Jones and we can advise you as to whether you have a claim, as well as next steps.

 

It might come as a surprise to some, but any kind of vibrating tool regardless of its size can cause repetitive strain injuries  (link to RSI page to enhance SEO with internal link).   It is important that these tools are used correctly and the correct protective measures are in place to prevent RSI injuries, like VWF.

 

What are the symptoms of Vibration White Finger?

If someone has the condition VWF then it can affect the blood vessels, joints and nerves in their wrist and hand.   The condition can be something that lasts for months, even years and in serious cases it is completely debilitating.

 

The most common symptoms are:

  •      Intense red colour in the fingers;
  •      Loss of dexterity in the fingers and hands which makes it hard to grip objects;
  •      Pain, numbness or tingling;
  •      White colour in the fingers;
  •      Whiteness that starts at the fingertips and spreads down the fingers into the palm of the hand.

 

What should Employers be doing to protect employees?

Employers have a duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to protect their employees from conditions such as Vibration White Finger, however, sometimes employees are not properly protected and end up suffering from these conditions.

 

VWF is avoidable if those using vibrating machinery and tools do so in an approved manner according to industrial and safety regulations. Your Employer should make sure that as employees you have all the information and the necessary protective equipment to work safely, this includes:

  •      Ensuring that risks from vibration are controlled;
  •      Ensuring that employees take adequate breaks from using vibrating equipment;
  •      Monitoring your health in relation to the risks of VWF
  •      Providing employees with personal protective equipment (also known as PPE) and this includes things like anti-vibration gloves
  •      Providing information on the risks associated with vibration machinery and tools

 

Taking breaks is considered the most important factor.  If an employee is using a hammer-action tool (for example a drill) then they should take a break after 15 minutes of use.  However, other vibrating tools will only begin to create a Vibrating White Finger risk after being used for more than 60 minutes in one go.

 

If your employer is acting negligently by not giving you adequate breaks, failing to provide you with personal protective equipment or not providing you with information on the risks then you could have a claim.

 

How do I make a Vibration White Finger Claim?

Quite simply, you just need to contact the team here at Smith Jones and one of us will talk you through the process, discuss your condition or symptoms as well as get some background details surrounding your job and the work you have done with machinery or tools that meant you had prolonged exposure to hand-transmitted vibration.

 

It is important that you contact us as soon as possible if you think you might have a claim.  This is because there are set time frames which need to be adhered to in order to bring a Personal Injury claim and we may need to act quickly.

 

If we do think that you have a strong possibility of bringing a claim, then we will send you for a medical examination.  Usually conducted by an expert in musculoskeletal disorders who can properly assess your symptoms.    They will look at the severity of your condition and also what might have caused it, and most importantly whether you are in fact suffering from VWF.

 

Remember that there are various symptoms, and you don’t have to be suffering from the worst case scenario.  You can be experiencing anything from pain, numbness or tingling in your fingers and hands.  You could also be suffering from loss of dexterity, problems handling or holding small objects and these can have a very big impact on your day-to-day life as well as work.  The most common symptom though is the white discolouration, which can turn a red colour after a period of time.

 

After that, we would ensure you are being treated for the condition.   Whilst the condition is usually irreversible, there are treatments available to manage the condition and also make it more tolerable on a day-to-day basis.  These treatments include physiotherapy and medication.

 

Next, the team would then calculate how much compensation we believe you are entitled to.  We will consider the following factors:

  •       The severity of your condition
  •       The medical expenses you’ve had to pay to date (and any you will have to pay in the future)
  •       Your current pain and suffering
  •       Your occupation and the impact this condition has on your ability to work.

 

The next stage would see us putting your case to your employer (or your former employer).  This can be a very daunting experience for some, especially if they are still working for their employer.  We will ensure that we do everything to make this process as comfortable and straight-forward as possible.

 

Hopefully, your employer would accept blame early on, but if they do not and they contest the claim then your case may end up being settled in court.   Normally, these types of cases do settle out of court.  If, however, a court appearance is required we would ensure you were aware of the process and what was expected of you.

 

Then, if you have been successful, either in or out of court, then you will receive your compensation.  Our fees should mostly be paid by the other side, with a small proportion from your settlement to cover any shortfall (if there is one).

 

We will discuss our fee arrangements with you when we have our first conversation, so you are aware of the process, should you wish to proceed.

 

 

Starting Your Industrial Disease Compensation Claim

Making a claim for an industrial illness is perhaps much easier than you might first think. For a free and completely no-obligation chat about your potential claim, we’d advise you to get in touch with us as soon as possible on Freephone 0800 195 95 90.  Our team of experts can provide you with all the advice and assistance you’ll need to make a claim.

 

Once you’ve made contact with us, we’ll discuss the details of your potential claim and also evaluate the likelihood of success based on the level and nature of your injury or illness.  We might also be able to discuss the likely value of your claim.  However, it’s important that you do this as soon as possible since strict time limits apply to claims such as these – usually, within three years from the date, you discover your illness.

 

Occupational Disease Claims

Fortunately, many compensation claims for industrial illnesses don’t proceed to a full court hearing, and we’ll always do everything we can to secure the best settlement for you without the need for you to attend court or give evidence.  We do this by entering into negotiations with your employer’s insurers and providing them with all the evidence they might need to prove the value of your claim.  Sometimes this might necessitate putting certain reports forward – such as those prepared by medical experts – so that we can clearly demonstrate the nature and extent of your work-related illness.

 

However, as you might expect, no two cases are ever the same, and for this reason, we work closely with you, every step of the way so that we can always act in your best interests.  Ultimately, of course, we’re here to help, and that means that you can simply kick back and concentrate on the more important things in life – such as getting back on the road to recovery and enjoying time with your family and friends.

 

We’ve recovered thousands of pounds for our clients over the years and, since we only specialise in personal injury law, it’s what we do best. But don’t just take our word for it.  Why not give us a call now on Freephone 0800 195 95 90 or simply chat to one of our online operators?  We’re pretty sure you’ll be glad you did!