Claiming Injury Compensation for Silicosis
Silicosis injury claims enable you to claim compensation for contracting a silica-related disease when it can be shown that your exposure to crystalline silica dust was due to the negligence of somebody who owed you a duty of care.
Crystalline silica dust is most commonly found in industries such as construction and demolition – where workers are exposed to concrete and paving materials – or in industries involving stone cutting, pottery, ceramics and glass manufacturing.
Silicosis injuries are caused by the inhalation of the crystalline silica particles, which are then attacked by the immune system. This results in inflammation, and gradually leads to fibrosis which prevents the lungs from functioning properly.
The symptoms of silicosis and other silica-related diseases can take many years to manifest after exposure to crystalline silica dust. Once diagnosed, the condition is irreversible. For this reason, if you start experiencing a persistent cough and a shortness of breath, and you work in an industry where you may have been exposed to crystalline silica dust, it is essential that you seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Other Conditions Associated with Silicosis
As well as silicosis being an industrial disease that can have fatal consequences after long-term exposure to crystalline silica dust, it can also accelerate the development of other chronic illnesses in those that have experienced a modest amount of exposure.
The development of conditions such as tuberculosis, pulmonary hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer can all be accelerated by exposure to crystalline silica dust, and silicosis has also been linked to heart failure, kidney disease and arthritis.
Your GP will be able to determine whether your exposure to crystalline silica dust has led to the development of a silica-related illness by ordering x-rays and CT scans, and conducting lung function tests to establish the extent of your condition.
Once diagnosed with silicosis or a silica-related disease, your GP will also be able to provide advice about what measures you can take to prevent the condition from deteriorating further. There is no cure for silicosis. All your doctor will be able to do is suggest treatments to alleviate the symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Are You Entitled to Injury Compensation for Silicosis?
Whether or not you are entitled to injury compensation for silicosis will depend on the circumstances in which you were exposed to crystalline silica dust. In the majority of cases, you will only be eligible to make silicosis injury claims if it can be shown that your exposure to crystalline silica dust was attributable to the negligence of an employer.
Your employer´s negligence could have been due to failing to warn you about the risks of working with stone (particularly sandstone), clay, ceramics or glass; or by failing to provide you with personal protective equipment that would have prevented the inhalation of the silica particles. There may also be other circumstances which entitle you to claim injury compensation for silicosis.
However, one of the main issues with silicosis injury claims is that the symptoms of the condition – and other silica-related diseases – can take up to twenty years to manifest. During this time a former employer may have gone out of business, meaning that there is no respondent to name when silicosis injury claims are made to the Injuries Board Ireland.
It may still be possible to claim injury compensation for silicosis against your former employer´s insurance company if your former employer is no longer trading – in which case it would be in your best interests to discuss how you were exposed to crystalline silica dust with a personal injury solicitor at the first possible opportunity.
Time Limits for Making Silicosis Injury Claims
In Ireland there is a time limit of two years for making silicosis injury claims from the date on which you were diagnosed with a silica-related injury (not two years from the date on which you were exposed to crystalline silica dust).
This time limit 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 construct a defence if they wish to dispute your claim.
It also allows time for the full consequences of your illness to be established. The settlement of silicosis injury claims is influenced by four primary factors (discussed below), and it may take the full two-year period to determine how much injury compensation for silicosis you are entitled to.
Consequently, if you need legal advice about making silicosis injury claims, you should not delay speaking with a solicitor. If you wait until near the end of the two-year time limit before seeking legal advice, it might result in you not receiving your full entitlement to injury compensation for silicosis.
How Much Injury Compensation for Silicosis?
The settlement of silicosis injury claims is influenced by the extent of your injury (and its contribution towards the development of other silica-related diseases), the effect it has on your quality of life, the psychological impact of the injury and its financial cost.
As silicosis is a permanent injury which is likely to reduce your life expectancy, a settlement of injury compensation for silicosis should reflect the seriousness of the condition. You should be significantly compensated for the deterioration in your quality of life due to not having the breath to partake in hobbies and pastimes that would form part of your usual routine.
The psychological impact of a silica-related injury would have to be determined by a psychologist, while a forensic accountant would consider the financial costs of your injury such as medical expenses and lost income. Because it is important that each of these variable factors are assessed accurately, you should always seek professional legal advice on the settlement of silicosis injury claims.
One other important consideration with regard to injury compensation for silicosis is the contribution you may have made to the extent of your injury. If you delayed seeking medical advice once your symptoms materialised, or continued to smoke once a silica-related disease had been diagnosed, you will be considered to have contributed to the extent of your injury by your own negligence, and the settlement of injury compensation for silicosis will be reduced to reflect your contributory negligence.
Speak with a Solicitor about Silicosis Injury Claims
Being diagnosed with a life-changing illness is a very difficult situation to deal with. When the illness could have been prevented with greater care, it is often harder to cope because of the emotions you will be experiencing.
Although making silicosis injury claims will not turn back the clock and repair the damage to your lungs, they will enable you to recover compensation for the negligence that caused your injury so that you can receive the best possible medical attention and live the rest of your life without financial concerns.
In order to get the maximum possible settlement of injury compensation for silicosis, it is in your best interests to speak with a solicitor for all the reasons previously mentioned in this article. The sooner you speak with a solicitor, the sooner an investigation into your claim can begin and the sooner your claim for injury compensation for silicosis can be resolved.