I have just found out that grain and flour can cause asthma and I want to find out if I can make an occupational asthma claim. I work as a baker and developed asthma last year, but there is no family history. What should I do?
Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor
Editor in Chief
Many asthmatics are unaware that they may be entitled to claim occupational asthma compensation against their employer’s liability insurance, and may only find out when it is too late to initiate an occupational asthma claim. In Ireland you only have two years from the date of discovery of asthma in which you can initiate a claim for occupational asthma compensation against an employer. Since you were diagnosed last year, it is vital that you speak with a personal injury solicitor promptly about making a claim for occupational asthma to ensure that it can be made within the timeframe stipulated by the Statue of Limitations.
Although you are not obliged to use a personal injury solicitor to pursue a claim for occupational asthma compensation, it is strongly advisable to do so. Claims for occupational asthma compensation can be complicated, and establishing negligence a year after a diagnosis may be problematic. This does not mean that your chances of making a successful occupational asthma claim are low, only that the experience of a personal injury solicitor will be necessary in order to present the strongest possible case for occupational asthma compensation to your employer.
Asthma is a common respiratory disorder and doctors make many diagnoses of this lung condition every year; however it is still relatively rare that a doctor will make the link between asthma and the workplace. Doctors are generally concerned with treating the condition and preventing future asthma attacks than identifying the exact causative agent. Even if a family doctor is aware of your occupation or asks the question about the nature of your work, an association with your asthma and the workplace may not be made.
Your chosen personal injury solicitor will ensure that you are examined by a doctor with experience of dealing with occupational asthma, who will help establish and prove an association with your work; provided that this is in fact the case. You will also have the severity of your condition assessed including any long term consequences to your health from developing occupational asthma. With a thorough diagnosis made and full details and proof included with your occupational asthma claim, it is more likely that you will receive your full entitlement to occupational asthma compensation.