What is COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is the name used for a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties. These conditions include:
- Emphysema – The air sacs at the end of the lungs break down, which makes the lungs become baggy and causes them to trap air.
- Bronchitis – The airways in the chest become inflamed. People who have bronchitis may often cough up phlegm.
People who have COPD may have emphysema and bronchitis, or they may have only one condition. These conditions narrow the airways and make it increasingly difficult to breathe. If you have COPD you may find that you have wheezing, shortness of breath, a persistent cough with phlegm and suffer from frequent chest infections.
If you believe you have COPD, you should book an appointment with your GP to get a thorough diagnosis and discuss treatment options. COPD cannot be reversed, but treatment can slow down the deterioration of your airways, so an early diagnosis is beneficial.
What causes COPD?
COPD may be caused by:
- Exposure at your workplace to dusts, chemicals or fumes. For example; silica dust, cadmium fumes or dust, grain and flour dust, welding fumes and minerals or organic dusts.
- Genetics. COPD seems to run in families, so if one of your relatives had it, your risk of developing it might be increased.
- Smoking is a widely known cause of COPD.
If you have a genetic risk of COPD, or if you are a smoker or have smoked in the past, this does not necessarily mean you cannot claim compensation for your COPD. If you have been exposed to known COPD trigger chemicals at work or work in an industry which is high risk for COPD, this will all be taken into account. It may be that your job has contributed to your COPD, as well as your smoking.
Examples of industries which have a possibility of increasing your risk to COPD.
Many workers, particularly in the past, have been exposed to harmful chemicals, substances or dust with no protective measures in place such as implementing correct ventilation, minimising exposure, or using the correct protective equipment.
Claiming for COPD
It can take many years for COPD to develop, and most people are over 40 when the symptoms first appear. If this sounds like you, you may worry that you cannot make a claim against your employer because the firm you worked for is no longer in operation, or that you have waited too long to proceed.
There is a three-year window in which you have to make a claim, however, this begins after the date of ‘knowledge’ of your COPD. So you should ideally contact a solicitor as soon as the thought crosses your mind that you potentially have COPD because of exposure to harmful substances. However, some cases are allowed more than ten years after the three years have run out.
You can also claim against an employer who is no longer trading. Moreover, you don’t have to have been an employee of the company to be affected by their negligence. You can also claim if multiple employers contributed to your COPD, for example, if you were a subcontractor.
We know this can be confusing, and industrial disease claims are not as straightforward as accident claims. This is why we have a dedicated team for industrial disease claims, and we have a wealth of experience in helping local people who suffer with all kinds of diseases or illnesses caused by their work. We don’t expect you to be a law expert, and if you would like to discuss an industrial disease claim or have any questions at all you can call us for immediate, face to face advice from a qualified solicitor. We will be able to tell you whether you can proceed with making a claim, and we operate on a no-win, no-fee basis. Which means you don’t pay anything unless your claim is a success, we are fully transparent about our fees, and you can find out more information about that here in our FAQ’s.
To enquire about your COPD or another industrial disease claim, please fill in our short claims form or call our free phone line –
0800 163 622. We will get back to you immediately to discuss any questions that you have. You can also visit us at our Sheffield office on Ecclesall Road anytime between 9.30 and 4.00pm, without an appointment and we guarantee that you’ll be able to speak with a qualified solicitor.