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Disease Claims

Have you developed a respiratory illness
due to exposure to hazardous conditions?

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Things To Know

What is a Respiratory Disease

Respiratory diseases affect the respiratory system such as your lungs and respiratory tract. They can range from mild, transient symptoms to chronic debilitating, and even life threatening conditions which are caused by exposure to irritants, hazardous substances or chemicals found in a workplace.

Respiratory Disease Symptoms

Respiratory diseases include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, emphysema, pneumoconiosis and silicosis can cause coughing, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, chest pain and coughing up excessive phlegm or blood.

Employer Liability

Your Employer has a legal duty to reduce and prevent exposure to substances hazardous to health and ensure anyone who already has a respiratory condition doesn’t get any worse. Employers are under a duty of care to ensure their Employees are not put at any foreseeable risk as far as practicable.

How can I Claim

At Oakwood Solicitors, our Industrial Disease solicitors have a wealth of experience in dealing with occupational respiratory disease claims. If you are suffering from a respiratory disease, this may have been caused or made worse by your employers’ negligence regarding your safety for which you may be able to receive compensation.

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'No-Win, No-Fee'

agreement available on Respiratory Disease claims cases.

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Fighting for compensation

that you are rightly entitled to receive.

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claims handler to see your case through to the end.


Very happy.

Very happy with the treatment we received from Tim Fieldhouse at Oakwood Solicitors. We were kept informed on a regular basis. Very friendly and informative.

- Anthony Haydon

I cannot recommend them highly enough.

I was pleased with the settlement and would like to thank Natasha Hardy for her time and patience and the excellent advice she offered. Very deserving of the 5 stars I have given.

- Bernard Shaw

The Experts in Respiratory Disease Claims

Oakwood Solicitors Ltd has a dedicated team of solicitors and legal professionals, specialising in high-value respiratory disease claims. With a strong reputation for being tough on defendants, we’re sure to recover the compensation you deserve.

What is Respiratory Disease Injury?

Respiratory illnesses affect the lungs and other parts of the respiratory system. Respiratory diseases range from mild and self–limiting conditions, such as the common cold, to more life-threatening diseases such as bacterial pneumonia and lung cancer.

What are the symptoms of respiratory diseases?

The main problems to look out for are the following:

  • Difficulty breathing

While shortness of breath during exercise is normal, if it doesn’t go away or is present when you are resting, it could be a sign of respiratory illness.

  • Breathing noisily

If you find yourself wheezing or breathing noisily, it is a good indicator that something more serious may be wrong.

  • Lingering Chest Pain

If you have a chest pain that seems to linger constantly and seems to get worse / aggravated when coughing then this could be a sign of respiratory illness

  • Coughing up Blood

If you find yourself coughing up blood, this is a clear sign that something could be wrong. It could be coming from your lungs or respiratory tract. Whatever the cause, this is serious and should be investigated further.

How much is my claim worth?

The value of the claim will solely be depending on the issues which are medically associated with your work exposure. We will instruct an appropriate expert with an expert field in respiratory medicine; it will be once a medical report has been produced that we will be able to properly assess the value of the claim.

The claims range for these types of cases can be from a few thousand pounds to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

What can I claim?

Each Industrial Disease case has to be treated individually, and not every case will be the same. In any claim for personal injury there are broadly two heads of damages that can be claimed:

  • General Damages

Awards that are made for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity of life. Loss of amenity means the inability to complete activities, either temporarily or permanently, after an accident, which could be undertaken before. This is an award designed to compensate you for the actual injuries suffered, and the effect those have had on your quality of life.

  • Special Damages

Damages to compensate for any financial losses as a result of the Industrial Disease. This could be any loss of earnings, any medication you have had to pay for, or any cost of care for the extra care you have needed from family or care providers.

If you are not able to do things such as gardening, walking the dog and have to pay somebody for these services as a direct consequence of your Industrial Disease, these can also be claimed for.

In regards to General Damages Judges, insurance companies and solicitors use a basic guide called the Judicial Guidelines which is an indication of what could be expected from an injury or symptoms.

As a rough guide, claims for general damages for the different types of disease claims are as follows:

Asbestos-related illness   – Depending on the illness, the award can range from £60,000 – £110,000

Occupational Asthma – Award will normally fall between £3,000 – £12,000

To stress – this is an estimate of what most cases settle for. It is only once medical evidence has been obtained that a full assessment of the value of the general damages can be made. The settlement figure may ultimately be higher or lower than the figures quoted above.

How do I make a claim?

If you have read the above and feel that you may be suffering from any of the symptoms whilst exposed to substances at work, call Oakwood Solicitors to speak to a member of our dedicated Industrial Disease team.

In order to run the majority of personal injury claims, you have to have started the claim within three years of the injury. However, with industrial disease claims it may be that the injury started over a period of time and was only diagnosed within the last three years. We will be able to clarify this for you.

How long will my case take?

The length of time for a case can vary, and can strongly depend on how Defendants and their insurers want to defend the action. It may take a considerable length of time to identify insurers for the Defendants if they are no longer trading, and the obtaining of evidence from experts in respiratory medicine (and potentially from health and safety experts or a chemical engineer) in regards to the exposure of chemicals can take a long time.

We will also need to obtain the full list of your past employers from the HMRC, which can also take some time to obtain. The case can take anywhere from 12 months, up to 3–4 years to reach a conclusion.

How would my case be funded?

Our cases are brought on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis. If we accept your claim, as long as terms of the agreement are complied with by yourself – namely that you do not mislead and you co-operate – there will be no charge to you in the event of the case failing.

If the case succeeds, there will be a deduction to be made from the damages.

Occupational lung disease

What is occupational lung disease?

These are conditions that have been caused or worsened by someone’s occupation. Conditions are caused by inhaling mineral dusts. The severity of the disease is related to the dust inhaled and the duration of that exposure.

What are the symptoms of occupational lung disease?

The most common symptoms of occupational lung cancer and lung disease may include:

  • Shortness of breath and a feeling of tightness in the chest.
  • Abnormal breathing pattern.
  • Coughing and wheezing.

It must be stressed that symptoms of occupational lung cancer and lung disease may resemble other medical conditions, and it is vitally important that you consult your GP for a diagnosis.

Types of occupational lung disease

Occupational asthma

An asthma that has been caused due to breathing in particular substances, gases, dust, chemical fumes, or animal fur. It can be that a person is sensitive to that agent, causing an immunological response or an allergy.

Respiratory cancers

Including lung cancer caused by contact to particles such as diesel exhaust emissions, oils, sulphur, mustard gas, nitrogen oxides, fly ash, fiberglass silica, asbestos. It is also known as Bronchiolitis obliterans and causes injury to the smallest airways in the lungs.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is a long-term lung disease which reduces the flow of air into the lungs due to damage of the tissue and inflammation of the airways. Subtypes of COPD include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It is usually caused by gases, vapours, fumes and dust, and is seen in industries such as mining, textiles, plastic, leather, construction and rubber.


Pneumonicosis is caused by scarring and inflammation of the long term and is also known as allergic alveolitis, bagpipe lung or extrinsic allergic alveolitis. It is due to the breathing in of organic dust and is seen in workers dealing with coal dust, asbestosis, and silica.


Mesothelioma is a malignant tumour of the pleura (lining of the lung) but can also be found less commonly in the lining of the abdominal cavity or the lining around the heart.

Mesothelioma can be contracted from very light exposure to asbestos. However, the risk of development increases in proportion with the quality of asbestos inhaled. Studies have suggested that the length of the asbestos fibres may be relevant to the carcinogenic qualities.

Asbestos and Asbestosis

Asbestos-related diseases are disorders either of the lung or pleura caused by the exposure to and inhalation of asbestos fibres. Asbestos-related diseases generally take decades to develop following exposure.

You are at more of a risk of developing Asbestos-related disease if you worked in a job with high asbestos exposure. However, even with a small amount of Asbestos exposure, the disease can still develop.

Such disease can also occur as a result of non–occupational, environmental exposure. Asbestos was extensively used in many building materials, and large amount of asbestos still remain in buildings. If the Asbestos is disturbed to allow fragments to be released into the air, it can create a potential hazard to health.

Pleural thickening

Pleural thickening is thickening of the pleural surfaces of the lung. This can be associated with breathlessness and can give rise to chest pains. Once formed, it may remain static, but can cause other disability over around 10 years in roughly 10-25 % of cases.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of job put you most at risk?

There is no finite list as to what jobs may expose you to chemicals that could cause respiratory diseases, but generally the following types of jobs are considered the riskiest:

  • Construction

Workers who inhale dust in demolition zones can be at risk.

  • Manufacturing

Many factory workers are exposed to dust, chemicals, and gases that could lead to respiratory diseases.

  • Textiles

Textile workers who make upholstery, towels, socks, bed linens and clothes are at risk of exposure. They may inhale particles released from cotton and other materials.

  • Cleaning

Many commonly-used disinfectants can cause or worsen respiratory disease.

How did I contract an industrial disease?

Sufferers will usually contract an industrial disease through their working environments. It may be that the symptoms of the disease do not appear for some time and they may have left their position before the illness manifests itself.

This means that when you are looking to run a case against a previous employer, we may have to trace back to the time that you worked there. It could also be that a patient has worked at a variety of similar employers who may all be liable for the presenting symptoms.

If the company you worked for is no longer trading, this will not necessarily be a barrier to claiming. We will undertake what is known as an ELTO search. This stands for Employers Liability Tracing Office. This search will look to identify who insured the company when you worked for them. If insurers are located, they will have to step into the shoes of the Defendant and become the paymasters of the claim.

As a lot of these matters relate to exposure from decades earlier, it is not unusual that Claimants either forget jobs where they may have briefly experienced exposure, or the exact years of employment. Also, it is not unusual that the name somebody has understood to have been their employer is not actually the legal entity that employed them.

We will therefore obtain your employment schedule from the HMRC, which will list all your employers through your lifetime. After discussion with yourself, we will then look to proceed with the claims against all the identified Defendants and their insurers.

Will I lose my job if I make a claim?

If you are still working for the defendant, they cannot dismiss you for making or proposing to make a claim. If your employer does attempt to do so, you are likely able to make a successful unfair dismissal claim. In our experience, the majority of insurers understand their duties owed to you and the right you have to pursue a claim if this duty has been breached.

In most cases, the claim will normally be transferred from the Defendants directly to their insurers, and it will be the insurers who will deal with the defending of the action.

I have just been diagnosed with an industrial disease but I stopped working at the company a while ago? Can I still make a claim?

If you have only become aware of a problem recently and have only just noticed issues, then your action should be in time for limitation purposes. However, this is something that is solely evidence-based for each action, so it is strongly recommended that you speak with a solicitor to take further advice.

Although a number of illnesses such as occupational cancer, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and asbestos-related illness latency periods can be a number of decades, for other diseases such as occupational asthma, repetitive strain injury (RSI) and vibration white finger, you would expect these symptoms to manifest at the time of (or very shortly after) exposure.

What is the duty of my employer to protect me from developing respiratory illness through work?

As well as common law duty to ensure a safe place of work and a safe system of work, your employer will have a number of duties set down by statute.


 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

  • Employers have a duty so far as is reasonably practicable to ensure the safety and welfare of their employees.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

  • Duty to undertake a reasonable risk assessment (Reg. 3)
  • Requirement to undertake a health surveillance (Reg. 6)

Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992

  • Ensure that suitable personal equipment is provided (Reg. 4)
  • Ensure an assessment of any personal protective equipment is undertaken to determine whether it is suitable.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002

  • Required to assess health risk where work is liable to expose employees to substances hazardous to health (Reg. 6)
  • Ensure exposure to substances hazardous to health is either prevented, or where not reasonably practicable, adequately controlled (Reg. 7)
  • Ensure any employee exposed to substances hazardous to health are monitored and under suitable health surveillance (Reg. 11)

Why should I choose Oakwood Solicitors Ltd?

Oakwood Solicitors Ltd agrees to work on your industrial disease claim on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis. If your claim is unsuccessful, you will not be expected to pay us a penny. If you are successful in your claim, we take a percentage of the compensation meaning that the only time we will receive money is if we have brought your claim to a fruitful conclusion.

You will have a dedicated advisor who will see your claim through from start to finish, assisting you in the event of any queries or issues you may have. If it is preferable to you, we are able to assign a female advisor to carry out your claim. Your case handler will also continue to provide regular updates until the conclusion of your claim, ensuring the process is as stress-free and effortless as possible.

What do I do now?

If you believe or feel you have a claim contact us for a free initial consultation regarding your options.

Tim Fieldhouse
Tim Fieldhouse - Solicitor and Head of Industrial Disease

Tim Fieldhouse is a Solicitor and Head of our Industrial Disease department. Tim qualified as a Solicitor in 2005 having trained at national law firm Thompsons solicitors.

With experience in all areas of Personal Injury law, Tim has assisted many people suffering from irreversible hearing loss, hand symptoms and other illnesses that have developed as a direct consequence of work.

Within the Industrial Disease team, Tim is instructed to assist claimants in recovering compensation for illnesses that are a direct consequence of working conditions, sometimes from many decades earlier.



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