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Occupational cancer claims

If you suspect you’ve contracted occupational cancer as a result of exposure to hazardous substances, you could be eligible to make a personal injury compensation claim.

What is occupational cancer?

If you have developed an occupational cancer, you may be entitled to claim compensation. A substance is said to be an occupational carcinogen if it has been proven that prolonged exposure to the substance can increase your chances of developing a certain kind of cancer.

For example, if you have worked around carcinogens in the workplace such as asbestos, radiation, or silica, you could be at risk of developing specific cancers.

In the unfortunate event you are diagnosed with occupational cancer, while we can’t undo the damage caused by regular exposure to carcinogens, we can put you in touch with industrial disease solicitors who can help you get the justice and compensation you deserve.

To find out more about personal injury claims, call a trained legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438, or fill in the online form and request a call back.

How to identify occupational cancer

The first step in claiming compensation for occupational cancer is identifying the type of cancer you have and its cause. This can be a difficult process, as there are many types of cancers that are work-related, but could also be the result of other factors like lifestyle habits and genetics.

There are three main ways that someone may develop an occupational disease:

  • By breathing in harmful chemicals or dust at work (e.g., asbestos)
  • By touching harmful chemicals or dust at work (e.g., benzene)
  • By being exposed to radiation at work

Cancer causing substances

  • Asbestos fibres
  • Beryllium and chromium
  • Working with radon gas
  • Working with diesel exhaust fumes
  • Chemicals used in the oil and gas industry such as organic solvents like benzene, trichloroethylene (TCE) or vinyl chloride monomer (VCM)
  • Coal tar distillation
  • Silica dust

Types of common occupational cancers

Work related cancers are caused by the exposure to carcinogenic chemicals in the workplace. These chemicals aren’t limited to asbestos, they can include other substances like radon, diesel fumes, and diesel exhaust which can cause a wide array of cancers.

Most common occupational cancers include:

  • Mesothelioma – Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that develops in the membrane lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen. It occurs when asbestos fibres are inhaled or ingested and can develop into tumours. Mesothelioma is difficult to treat, with only about 15% of patients surviving for 5 years after diagnosis. The prognosis depends on several factors including age at diagnosis, type of mesothelioma, and level of asbestos exposure.
  • Asbestos related lung cancer – Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fibre that is resistant to heat and corrosion. It was used in many building materials before it was banned in the 1970s due to its health risks. It can lead to mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other industrial diseases if inhaled in sufficient quantities over a long period of time.
  • Lung cancer – This form of cancer can be caused when you breathe in harmful dust particles or fumes doing your job. This is usually the result of exposure to carcinogens at work like asbestos, but not always. Exposure to certain chemicals such as cadmium, radon exposure, and inhalation of silica dust can all cause lung cancer.
  • Skin cancer – Skin cancer can be caused when you’re regularly exposed to UV rays while working (e.g. on a construction site or as a window cleaner), or an indoor work environment where there are strong lights that produce UV radiation (like some plastics factories), or through exposure to mineral oils and coal tar distillation, resulting in non melanoma skin cancer.
  • Prostate cancer – This type of cancer can be caused by exposure to chemicals used in manufacturing industries such as paint production, rubber processing, steel fabrication, and automotive repair shops
  • Bladder cancer – This type of cancer is more common among people who work with chemicals like benzene, which is found in gasoline and paint thinner; nitrosamines from plastics manufacturing; and cadmium from nickel production.
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma – This can be caused by exposure to chemicals like formaldehyde, arsenic, and pesticides.

Occupational cancer symptoms

If you suspect that your work could have given you occupational cancer, it’s important to know what the symptoms are.

The most common signs of occupational cancer include:

  • Skin lesions and ulcers (such as melanoma)
  • A lump in the breast or testicle
  • A persistent cough or other breathing-related issues
  • Weight loss without trying to lose weight
  • Fatigue, insomnia, unexplained exhaustion, tiredness and lack of energy.

Employer’s duty of care

An employer’s duty of care can be thought of as a general responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees. The law requires employers to carry out certain obligations in order for them not to be held liable for any injuries sustained by their employees in the course of their employment.

Employers are legally bound to have a duty of care to their employees, which means they must take reasonable measures to ensure that they are not harmed during work.

This includes:

  • Providing adequate training and equipment
  • Ensuring premises are safe to work in
  • Providing access to expert advice on health and safety issues
  • Carrying out regular checks on equipment

In the case of occupational cancer, an employer fails in their legal duty of care if they are aware that there is a risk of exposure to carcinogens at work, yet they have failed to do anything about it.

Making an occupational cancer claim

An occupational cancer claim is a compensation claim made against an employer for failing to provide a safe working environment, or putting in place processes to ensure the safety of the employee.

In order to bring about a successful claim, you and your solicitor must show that the employer has been negligent in some way, and as a result they have caused or failed to provide adequate protection against a cancer which resulted from exposure to hazardous substances at work.

If it can be shown that your employer did not take all reasonable steps to prevent you from contracting cancer at work, then there may be a case for claiming compensation through an employment tribunal or court.

The law on occupational cancer claims is complicated, so for the best chances of winning, we recommend you always seek legal advice.

How to gather evidence to support your claim

If you think you have symptoms of occupational cancer, the first thing to do is see your doctor. Your doctor will be able to assess how likely it is that your illness is linked to your job.

Then, if a solicitor thinks there’s a good chance that your illness was caused by an industrial disease, they’ll work on building up evidence.

This might involve:

  • Collecting medical records from previous doctors’ appointments and consulting with specialists about relevant treatment options
  • Gathering copies of reports or letters detailing any occupational hazards in the workplace
  • Asking friends, family members and colleagues if they remember any specific details about what happened while you were at work

You can help your solicitor build your case by collecting evidence to support your claim, such as:

  • Your employment records, including any company documents about the substances or processes you worked with
  • Medical reports and letters from your doctor which explain how the work-related exposure has affected your health, as well as what treatment they have provided and how it has affected your health
  • Records of sick leave taken before retirement as a result of work-related illness/illness (for example, an employee’s sickness record)

Time limit for claims process for occupational cancers

In most accident claims the time limit to claim compensation is three years. However the law surrounding time limits for industrial diseases is complex and they will differ from case to case.

The best thing you can do is seek legal advice from specialist industrial disease lawyers.

If you have an occupational cancer diagnosis, call a trained legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438. They’ll be able to let you know whether they think you can make a claim and can answer any questions you may have.

How much occupational cancer compensation could I receive?

As with any personal injury claim—and particularly those involving cancer—there are many factors which need consideration when working out how much compensation you could actually receive. The amount paid out will typically depend on your individual circumstances.

You can claim for financial losses, loss of earnings, medical expenses and other losses. You can claim for the future as well as the past.

When calculating how much compensation you could be entitled to, the following factors will be considered:

  • How much income you have lost due to your illness and subsequent inability to work. This can include loss of future earnings as well as the value of any benefits such as sick pay or holiday entitlement
  • The severity of your condition. This is determined by how long it takes for symptoms to develop after exposure
  • Your age at the time of diagnosis and future life expectancy
  • Any care or assistance you require
  • Travel costs for treatment and appointments
  • If you need special equipment and aids to help you do the things you used to do, or any alterations you’ve had to make to your home
  • The length of time you were exposed to unsafe working conditions.

You can use our compensation calculator, based on the Judicial College Guidelines, to determine a rough amount of damages you may be awarded.

Making a compensation claim on a no win no fee basis

To find out if you could be entitled to claim compensation after developing cancer because of occupational exposure to carcinogenic substances, call 0800 234 6438 and speak to a specialist legal adviser for a stress free, no obligation consultation today.

If they think you have a case, they’ll pass you onto a partner personal injury solicitor. What have you got to lose? With a no win no fee claim, if you’re not successful, you won’t have to pay a penny.

You have nothing lose and everything to gain.

Other Important Information

*No Win No Fee

  • Although all our cases are handled on a no win no fee basis, other costs could be payable upon solicitors request. These will be fully explained to you before you proceed. Most customers will pay 25% (including VAT) of the compensation they are awarded to their law firm, although this may vary based on individual circumstances. Your solicitor may arrange for insurance to be in place for you to make sure your claim is risk free. Termination fees based on time spent may apply, or in situations such as: lack of cooperation or deliberately misleading our solicitors, or failing to go to any medical or expert examination, or court hearing.
  • *Criminal Injury Claims

  • If you want to make a claim for a criminal injury, you are not required to use the services of a claims management company to pursue the claim. You can submit your claim for free on your own behalf, directly to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (England, Wales, and Scotland) or the Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme (Northern Ireland).
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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