Claiming Compensation for Occupational Silicosis
Claims for silicosis compensation are most often made against an employer (or former employer) who has failed to take the necessary precautions to eliminate the risk of exposure to crystalline silica dust in industries such as stonemasonry, construction and glass manufacturing.
There are several potential pitfalls when claiming compensation for occupational silicosis – such as who to make a claim against if a former employer has gone out of business and how to ensure you receive an appropriate settlement of compensation for the injury you have suffered.
This article expands on some of the potential pitfalls associated with claims for silicosis compensation and how you can avoid them. However, no two claims for compensation for occupational silicosis are identical; and for this reason it is recommended that you seek professional legal advice that is relevant to your particular situation at the earliest practical opportunity.
Who Can Make Claims for Silicosis Compensation?
If you have been diagnosed with silicosis or a silica-related disease, and the cause of your condition is a failure by your employer to advise of the risks of silicosis or to provide you with personal protective equipment to prevent you from inhaling particles of silica, you will be eligible to claim compensation for occupational silicosis.
You may also be able to make claims for silicosis compensation if you only experienced low exposure to crystalline silica dust, but the inhalation of the particles led you to develop conditions such as tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or lung cancer. Exposure to crystalline silica dust has also been associated with heart failure, arthritis and kidney disease.
Claims for silicosis compensation have to be made within two years of your diagnosis being made. This two-year limit enables an accurate assessment to be made of your condition in order that you receive an appropriate settlement of compensation for occupational silicosis – not necessarily how long it takes to make claims for silicosis compensation.
How to Make Occupational Silicosis Claims
The first stage of making claims for silicosis compensation is to apply to the Injuries Board. This in itself can be complicated if your former employer has gone out of business, as you will have to name his insurance company as the respondent (a solicitor will be able to help you find out who your former employer´s insurers were).
The Injuries Board will approach your employer (or your former employer´s insurance company) to ensure that they accept liability for your injury. If liability is accepted, the Injuries Board will assess your claim and write to you with their assessment of compensation for occupational silicosis. If both you and the respondent accept the Injuries Board´s assessment, your employer/the insurance company will be issued with an Order to Pay the value of the assessment.
If your employer/the insurance company denies liability, the Injuries Board will issue you with an Authorisation to pursue your claim for compensation for occupational silicosis in court. This is not an option most silicosis sufferers would look forward to, which is just one of the reasons why it is in your best interests to have a solicitor compile the strongest possible claim on your behalf.
How Much Compensation for Occupational Silicosis?
It is very important that settlements of compensation for occupational silicosis take into account every element of your life that has been affected by the disease. This means that not only should the settlement of claims for silicosis compensation compensate you for the physical pain and suffering are experiencing, but also for:
- The emotional trauma of having your life expectancy reduced
- The deterioration in your quality of life (also known as loss of amenity)
- The financial cost of your condition in terms of lost income and higher care costs
We mentioned above that no two claims for silicosis compensation are identical, and even if you are diagnosed with the same degree of occupational silicosis (chronic, accelerated or acute) as another sufferer, there are likely to be many other variable factors that will influence how much compensation for occupational silicosis you are entitled to.
We keep repeating that you should speak with a solicitor about claims for silicosis compensation, but without professional legal advice it would be very difficult for you to know if the Injuries Board assessment reflects your full entitlement to compensation for occupational silicosis. It is also a good idea to know in advance how much compensation you are entitled to in case you are approached by an insurance company with an unsolicited offer of compensation for occupational silicosis.
Unsolicited Approaches by Insurance Companies
When you apply to the Injuries Board for an assessment of compensation, the Injuries Board sends a copy of your application and your medical form to the respondent (your employer or a former employer´s insurance company). An existing employer would usually forward the copy of the application to their insurance company as well.
As settlements of claims for silicosis compensation can be substantial, an insurance company may approach you directly with an unsolicited offer of compensation. These offers are frequently lower than what might be assessed by the Injuries Board or what your solicitor may achieve through direct negotiation and should be treated with caution.
If you are experiencing financial difficulties because your illness prevents you from working, it is preferable for your solicitor to negotiate an interim payment of compensation for occupational silicosis until the final settlement is calculated rather than you accept an unsolicited offer in return for a quick settlement. If you inadvertently accept an offer of settlement, and it proves to be inadequate for your needs, you cannot go back to the insurance company and ask for more.
Further Information about Claims for Silicosis Compensation
Being diagnosed with a serious illness such as silicosis can be devastating, and you will need all the help and support you can get to help you through this difficult time. One thing you do not need is employers disputing your claims for silicosis compensation or insurance companies trying to under-settle compensation for occupational silicosis.
Therefore, you should speak with a solicitor to discuss the circumstances in which you were exposed to crystalline silica dust and how your illness has affected you and your quality of life. Your solicitor will be able to give you all the information you need about making claims for silicosis compensation as applies to your individual situation.
No amount of compensation can turn back the clock and reverse the damage that has been done to your lungs due to your employer´s negligence, but a fair and appropriate settlement of compensation for occupational silicosis can provide the best medical attention and allow you to live the remainder of your life without financial worries.