The process of making a claim for industrial disease is slightly different than for other claims, such as an accident at work. Under the Civil Procedure Rules there is a different ‘protocol’ to follow when pursuing such a case. Matters are often complicated due to the length of time since an individual was exposed to a material that was injurious to their health. For further information please see our advice centre and articles on industrial disease cases.
In summary, as to how such a claim progresses, here is a step by step guide:
1. Contact our industrial disease team, where you will be put in contact with a solicitor who has specialist knowledge of disease cases and can advise you as to whether you have a case that requires further investigation and how such a claim works.
2. It is often appropriate to then obtain the claimant’s medical records and notes, which will likely confirm any diagnosis as to an actionable disease and when the first diagnosis was made. (See our article on ‘limitation’ which sets out the time periods for making a claim)
3. After reviewing the medical records a solicitor will contact you to confirm whether, at that stage, there is viable case and, if so, will make an appointment to visit you in order to take your full instructions, a detailed work history and a draft of your witness statement. At that stage a ‘no win, no fee’ contract will be entered into, confirming you have nothing to pay if you lose and a success fee capped at 20% plus VAT of your damages if you win. Most firms charge 25% of the damages as well as deducting an insurance premium. With ASD there are no loans, interest or insurance premiums for you to pay. (Should you be suffering mesothelioma then no success fee is chargeable from your damages i.e. the service is free.)
4. An HMRC work history will then be obtained, detailing who you have worked for from 1960 to the present. Searches will also be carried out to identify the name of the employer(s) that exposed you to harmful materials and their insurers. Once identified then, if there is more than one Defendant Company, letters of claim will be sent to the companies or their insurers.
If the companies are no longer in existence our disease team will, if appropriate, make application to the Court to restore the defunct companies to the companies register, which will enable proceedings to be issued against such companies should liability be denied.
5. A medical expert (typically a respiratory/chest consultant) will be instructed to carry out an examination on you and prepare a medical report for legal purposes, which will confirm any actionable condition being suffered and the likely prognosis for the condition.
Should further reports then be required, such as reports from care experts, then these will be obtained with a view to valuing your claim and detailing settlement proposals to the defendants/insurers. (See our article on what can be claimed for as part of such cases.)
6. If additional expert evidence is required, such as engineering evidence as to exposure levels, then this will also be obtained.
7. Should your claim be accepted then we will negotiate a settlement with the defendants/insurers on your behalf.
8. Should liability be denied then we will instruct a barrister with specialist knowledge in disease cases to prepare papers so we can issue court proceedings on your behalf. In support of your claim we will also try and obtain witness statements from other persons who can recall the exposure levels and working conditions within the defendants’ premises.
9. After Court Proceedings are issued it is common to reach an agreement with an insurer without the need for a trial. Very few cases progress through to a trial and final hearing. If court proceedings are required the case can take between 12 months and 3 years to resolve.
For more information on industrial disease claims please call our industrial disease team on 0114 2672470.