Compensation Claims for Occupational Asthma
I was told that it is necessary to prove that my employer has been negligent in order to make compensation claims for occupational asthma. How can I do this?
You have been advised correctly, as compensation claims for occupational asthma must be substantiated with evidence of employer negligence. You are not required to provide unequivocal proof that you developed asthma as a direct result of employer negligence, only that ‘on the balance of probabilities’ your employer has caused you to contract the illness by failing to ensure the workplace environment was safe.
There are many respiratory irritants which are known to cause asthma. If you have worked in an environment where you have had to breathe fumes containing isocyanates or colophony, organic dusts such as flour and grain, solvents, inorganic dusts or if you worked with latex products, there is a strong probability that your asthma may be work-related. There must be a known link between exposure to a respiratory irritant and the development of asthma if a claim for asthma at work is to stand a good probability of success.
Before attempting to obtain proof of employer negligence, you must first have an examination by a doctor to determine the severity of your asthma and to receive treatment. You should also be prescribed emergency medications should you suffer a serious asthma attack. Your health must be your number one concern, which is all the more important with asthma due to the severity of this lung condition.
You must also advise your employer of your diagnosis and you should make a report in your employer’s accident book detailing your symptoms, when they first appeared and if they are linked to a specific aspect of your work. These procedures are essential to preserve your right to make compensation claims for occupational asthma against an employer’s liability insurance policy.
Once these procedures have been completed, you should consult a personal injury solicitor for specific advice about making a claim for asthma at work and for instruction about the evidence of employer negligence which you should try to collect. Since work-related asthma compensation claims can be complex, it is strongly advisable to use a personal injury solicitor to pursue compensation on your behalf in order to maximise the probability of recovering your full entitlement to compensation.
It is not only the development of asthma which can be the basis of a claim for work-related asthma compensation against an employer. If you already had asthma, which deteriorated as a direct result of your work, it may still be possible to make compensation claims for occupational asthma. In such cases, it is only the extent that the condition has deteriorated that can be claimed for; not for the pre-existing condition.