Compensation for Silicosis and Silica-Related Diseases
Making an injury claim for silicosis enables you to recover compensation for silicosis and other silica-related diseases when the reason for your irreversible condition is the negligence of an employer or former employer.
Even when a former employer is no longer in business, it may still possible to claim compensation for silicosis from their previous insurance company; although the process for making an injury claim for silicosis in these circumstances can be a lot more complicated.
Most importantly, successfully claiming compensation for silicosis will ensure that you have sufficient funds available to afford the best possible healthcare and support, and to take away any financial worries you may have about being unable to work or support your family.
Who is Eligible to Claim Compensation for Silicosis?
If you have worked in an industry such as construction, demolition or glass manufacturing, you may have been exposed to crystalline silica dust – especially if you have been working with sandstone. Particles of crystalline silica dust when inhaled cause inflammation and fibrosis in the lungs, resulting in scarred lung tissue that does not function properly.
The early symptoms of silicosis are a shortage of breath and a persistent cough. You may also have been feeling frequently tired before you visited your doctor. Even if you were only temporarily exposed to crystalline silica dust, an injury may have been caused that accelerated the development of silica-related diseases such as tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or lung cancer.
If you have been diagnosed with one of these conditions, and the cause of your illness is an employer´s negligence in protecting you from the risk of injury, you should be eligible to claim compensation for silicosis. You may also be eligible to make an injury claim for silicosis compensation if your exposure to crystalline silica dust exacerbated a heart condition, kidney disease or arthritis.
Making an Injury Claim for Silicosis
When you make an injury claim for silicosis, the process is the same as for any work-related injury. You complete an application for assessment and submit it to the Injuries Board with a medical report compiled by your doctor. The Injuries Board will forward a copy of your application to your employer or your former employer´s insurance company if your former employer is no longer trading.
If liability for your injury is acknowledged by the respondent, the Injuries Board may ask you to undergo a further medical examination to help them complete your assessment. Then they will inform you and your employer/the insurance company of how much compensation for silicosis they believe that you are entitled to.
If either you or your employer/the insurance company disagree with the Injuries Board assessment – or liability for your injury is denied – the Injuries Board will issue you with an Authorisation to pursue your injury claim for silicosis through the courts. If there are no objections to your claim or the assessment, the Injuries Board will issue an Order to Pay, and you will receive your compensation.
Potential Issues with the Injuries Board Process
The Injuries Board process for making an injury claim for silicosis is fairly straightforward, but there are some potential issues. The application for assessment (either online or the paper Form A) leaves little opportunity for you to describe the impact that your condition has had on your quality of life. In an injury claim for silicosis, loss of amenity and a reduced life expectancy are the two biggest factors.
Furthermore, without knowing how much compensation for silicosis you are entitled to, it makes it difficult to know whether or not the assessment by the Injuries Board is a fair reflection of the compensation you are entitled to. Should you accept a settlement which is inadequate for your future needs, you cannot go back to the Injuries Board and ask for more.
Similarly, the Injuries Board process alerts your employer´s or former employer´s insurance company that you are making an injury claim for silicosis. This could result in an unsolicited approach from the insurance company with an offer of settlement way below what you are entitled to. If you are experiencing financial hardship, you may be tempted to accept the offer as a short-term solution.
How Much Compensation for Silicosis Should You Receive?
How much compensation for silicosis you are entitled to receive depends on many different factors. Your age, the stage of your illness (chronic, accelerated or acute) and whether or not you smoke can all influence the settlement of an injury claim for silicosis. The deterioration in your quality of life (loss of amenity) and any emotional trauma you have experienced can also affect the value of your claim.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, any settlement of compensation for silicosis should also ensure that you have sufficient funds to pay for future healthcare needs and to support your family while you are unable to work. Although there is no cure for silicosis, you might have many more years of life left in you with suitable treatment and support.
Because of all these varying factors, it is impossible for you to know if the Injuries Board assessment or any offer of settlement you receive accurately reflects your entitlement to compensation for silicosis. Consequently it is always in your best interests to discuss your injury claim for silicosis with a solicitor at the first practical opportunity.
Time Limit for Making an Injury Claim for Silicosis
In Ireland there is a two-year time limit for making an injury claim for silicosis. The time limit begins when you are first diagnosed with silicosis or a silica-related disease and not when you may have been exposed to crystalline silica dust due to the negligence of your employer (usually the failure to provide personal protective equipment, but can also be due to a lack of training or the failure to advise of the risks associated with your job).
This time limit does not necessarily mean that an injury claim for silicosis will take two years to resolve. It exists to allow a full investigation by your solicitor into the circumstances of your exposure and for your employer (or your former employer´s insurance company) to raise any issues they may have related to contributory negligence or how much compensation for silicosis you are entitled to.
It also allows time for the full consequences of your injury to manifest. If you have been diagnosed with silicosis at an early stage, your health may still be deteriorating. In this scenario, it may be better to use the full two years to get an accurate prognosis on your condition. Provided liability is acknowledged by your employer or the insurance company, interim payments of compensation for silicosis can be arranged until the full consequences of your injury are apparent.
Speak with a Solicitor about Compensation for Silicosis
Being diagnosed with silicosis can be seriously distressing, and you will need all the help and support you can get to help you overcome the initial shock and make plans for the future. Therefore, it is advisable that you speak with a solicitor about compensation for silicosis to relieve some of the anxiety and stress you are most likely experiencing.
Your solicitor will be able to give you all the information you need about making an injury claim for silicosis compensation with regard to your individual situation. He or she will also be able to complete the Injuries Board process on your behalf to ensure that the paperwork is completed comprehensively and that any offers of settlement are assessed accurately.
No amount of compensation can reverse the damage that has been done to your lungs due to your employer´s negligence, but a solicitor can help you to obtain a fair and appropriate settlement of compensation for silicosis so that you have the resources to access the best healthcare available and are free of any financial worries for the remainder of your life.