Occupational Illness Claims

Occupational Illness Claims - Video

A copy of our occupational illness/industrial disease compensation video should be viewable below. A transcript of the file is also provided for your convenience. We hope you find the content useful and informative.

Freephone: 0808 129 3320 or email us using our online enquiry form.

Transcript - Occupational Illnesses - Compensation Claims

My name is Emma Costin and I am Head of the Occupational Disease Department at Simpson Millar. Most people know what is meant by a personal injury but I am not so sure regarding occupational disease. We deal with a wide range of diseases, the most common of which are probably the asbestos related illnesses such as asbestosis, diffused pleural thickening, mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer but also work related deafness, dermatitis which can be caused for example by exposure to latex or cleaning chemicals or even hairdressing chemicals at work, also occupational cancers including those caused by radiation and exposure to poisonous chemicals. We also deal with stress at work claims and repetitive strain injury claims as well as vibration white finger and other neurological diseases caused by exposure to work equipment over a prolonged period of time.

We have a specialist department at Simpson Millar that deals with occupational diseases distinct from any other departments because there are a number of issues related to occupational disease claims that are specialist. In particular, the exposure to the dangerous chemical or substance or work process typically took place either over a long prolonged period of time or many years ago so we can be dealing with companies or employers who have long since been dissolved or taken over, that means that we have to be specialists in tracing what has become of those companies and also their insurers, and having a dedicated team means that we have a large database that we can use to search for insurers’ and employers’ details against which has proved invaluable in succeeding in these cases for our clients.

Also there are legal issues that are distinct to occupational disease claims that differ from other personal injury actions, one of which is limitation. Normally somebody has 3 years from the date when they had an accident within which to bring a claim. For occupational diseases there is no single accident or event but often you are dealing with something that happened over a prolonged period of time. Therefore the law says that someone has 3 years from the date when they first knew that they may have an illness caused by work within which to bring a claim and insurers are alive to this point and often challenge Claimants who bring actions, for example, for an asbestos related illness or work related deafness by saying that they have brought their action our of time.

These are specialist areas and we have a specialist team who are used to combating these arguments and we have had a great deal of success in challenging insurers’ arguments on these fronts in Court.

Another reason why we have set up a specialist department with deal with occupational diseases is because we recognise that it is very important for people to be seen in their own home as soon as possible. Because of the nature of occupational diseases, may be the negligent act has taken place repeatedly over a long period of time when dealing with people who are elderly or retired, and we realise that we cannot expect these people to travel to our offices or to deal with us on the end of a telephone line and that it is must more helpful and easy for these type of clients to be seen in their own home, so we have members of our occupational disease department based in all of our offices nationwide who are very used to travelling around the country to see our clients to take statements from them, talk them through the claims process and if necessary to take them through Court forms and other form filling that might be necessary during the process of the claim. Many of our clients feel much more reassured about the claims process after they have met one of the members of our team and they have been through the claims process with them in their home and explained all the pitfalls and processes.

People are often worried about bringing a claim where there former employer has gone bust, dissolved or ceased to exist in another form, perhaps it has been taken over by a larger company, but this doesn’t always matter because as long as we can trace the insurance company who insured that firm at the time of the negligent act, for example at the time when someone was exposed to noise or was exposed to asbestos then we will be able to bring an action for the injured person. If a company is dissolved or gone bust normally we will have to restore the company and that’s a technical process again that we are used to doing. Sometimes if the company wasn’t incorporated in England and Wales we will need to engage agents, for example, if the company was incorporated in Scotland we work with a Scottish agent who will restore companies for us there. This means that if and when we come to issue Court proceedings there is a legal entity the restored company who we can sue but it will not be the restored company who will be paying the compensation, it will be the employer’s liability insurer who we previously would have traced because we have a database of employer’s liability insurers that it very extensive and we also have links with the Association of Personal Injury lawyers and other Claimant bodies and have access to an even greater database of companies and their insurers stretching back over many many years, so please be reassured if the company that you work for doesn’t exist, that does not mean that you will not succeed in your action and you should still seek legal advice.

Many people are understandably concerned about consulting a Solicitor because they think that it is going to cost them a lot of money. This isn’t the case with personal injury or occupational disease claims. These days the very vast majority of cases are dealt with on a no win no fee agreement which I am sure most people have heard of. What that means is that the Solicitor doesn’t get paid unless the case is won and it is as simple as that. Those that aren’t run on no win no fee agreements are usually funded by Trades Unions. Even if you are no longer employed by the company that you used to work for it is always worth checking with your Trades Union whether they will fund a litigation for an occupational disease claim because many of them will do so because they are political issues.

People often ask me what is special about Simpson Millar as opposed to another law firm who runs occupational disease claims. What I usually say to them is that we genuinely do have a national network of solicitors all of whom are qualified lawyers with a specialism in occupational disease claims, that means that they normally run occupational disease claims and most of their case load will be for occupational disease cases. This means that they truly are specialists in acting for Claimants and we recognise how important it is to see people in their own homes as soon as possible.

Another area where we are finding an increasing number of clients coming to us because they have seen something relevant to their claim on the website usually are relating to occupational cancers and occupational illnesses caused by exposure to unusual chemicals, radiation or metals and we are developing a reputation for acting for Claimants in these areas. Because of the issues that are being raised by Defendants and their insurers regarding limitation and the time in which these cases are brought to Court it is really important that if you believe that you are suffering from an occupational illness or condition caused by your employment whether now in or in a previous employment that you seek legal advice as soon as possible.

We welcome enquiries from people who are concerned that they might be suffering from an occupational disease or illness either through our freephone helpline or online or just to email us at our web addresses which are published on the website. We get back to people as quickly as we can, hopefully within 24 hours and we can usually tell you after a brief chat whether you have got a claim that is worth investigating or not.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Emma Costin Head of Occupational Illness

Call us now on freephone: 0808 129 3320 or send us an email using our online enquiry form.

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Gavin Evans | Partner &  Head of Industrial Disease | Simpson Millar LLP

Gavin Evans
Partner, Head of Industrial Disease

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