What is an industrial disease?
Industrial diseases are injuries or sicknesses resulting from exposure over a period of time to an occupational hazard in the workplace.
The hazard will vary according to the type of work being carried out, but it could be a harmful substance, such as dust or fumes, a harmful activity, such as using a vibrating tool of some sort, or a harmful environment, such as one that is very loud.
Examples of industrial diseases include the following:
- Asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma or asbestosis
- Industrial deafness
- Vibration white finger
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
If you have suffered illness as a result of your working life and your employer failed to provide you with adaquate protection and training, or failed to take steps to provide safe working conditions, you may be able to claim compensation. Read on for more answers to frequently asked questions about industrial disease.
Who will pay the compensation?
It is very rare for the employer concerned to actually shoulder the payment of industrial disease compensation. In the vast majority of cases compensation comes from your employer's "Employers Liability Insurance". It is a legal requirement for all UK employers to have a policy of this type.
Furthermore, in the event that you are still employed by the defendant there are a number of legal safeguards in place to protect you from unfair dismissal or discrimination made on the basis of your claim.
My employer has gone out of business, can I still claim?
Yes, this is because the claim is made against the employer's insurers rather than the employer itself.
Will my case go to court?
Although it is possible that your case will go to the court, only a fraction of cases ever reach this stage. Instead, it is likely that it will be in the interests of all parties concerned to settle without courtroom litigation – in fact, the courts encourage such an approach.
How much will it cost to fund my claim?
There are various funding options available to Thompsons' clients. However, it is worth bearing in mind that we offer No Win No Fee funding. This means that you make no outlays whatsoever unless you win your case – without exceptions. If your claim is successful then a portion of your compensation is set aside to cover court costs and related fees. We will always discuss this with you at the outset of your claim, so that there are no unwelcome surprises should you receive a damages award.
What are the time limits for industrial disease claims?
You can make a claim up to three years from the date the you knew or ought to have known that you were suffering from a work-related illness, or three years from the date of last exposure to any substance or process which has caused the condition (whichever is the later date).
Given that many industrial diseases take a long time to develop, it may be that you need to make a claim decades after the firm responsible for your illness has ceased to trade. But, as long as it is within three years of diagnosis of an industrial disease, it may still be possible to claim compensation when retired or no longer work for the former employer responsible for causing your illness.
Can I still claim state benefits?
In many cases you can still claim state benefits even while being the recipient of industrial disease compensation. For example, those with asbestos illnesses still receive payments under the Pneumoconiosis Workers Compensation Scheme. Furthermore, a good personal injury lawyer can help you establish a personal injury trust so that you can manage your finances in the way that is most advantageous to you.
If a family member has died as a result of an industrial disease, can we make a claim?
It is possible to claim compensation on behalf of a deceased family member. However, the claim must be brought within three years of the date of death. Similarly, if the claimant dies during the course of the case, the family can continue with the claim on his or her behalf.
However, if your family member has an industrial disease and later dies from an unrelated incident, you would have three years to claim in respect of the work related illness from the date they knew or ought to have known they were suffering from the condition, not from the date of the unrelated death.
How will I prove liability?
Most industrial disease claims are proven on the basis of medical records and witness statements. However, in claims relating to more recent periods of occupation it may be possible to also draw on official workplace health and safety documentation.
Can I claim compensation following work in Scotland, if I now live outside of Scotland?
Yes. Many of our claimants now live abroad in locations such as France, South Africa and Australia. If you worked in Scotland before you moved overseas, you can bring a claim for compensation in the usual way.
So, what's the next step?
The team of industrial disease claim solicitors at Thompsons has extensive experience dealing with occupational health claims and we only ever work for claimants, never for companies or insurers. We believe passionately that it is also our role to campaign for better, safer working conditions for employees in Scotland.
To get your industrial disease claim underway, just call Thompsons today on 0800 0891 331 or use our contact form to tell us a bit about your circumstances so that we can call you back at a time to suit you.