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We can all appreciate that we may have a claim against our employer if we are injured at work, suffered a broken bone, burns or scarring. What may not be so clear is what happens if we suffer an illness or a disease which we believe may have been caused by our working conditions.
Can I make a claim if I have contracted a disease or illness as a result of my work?
If you can prove that the illness or disease was contracted at work, as a result of the negligence of your employer, then you may be able to claim against them.
What if the disease or illness develops many years after I have left my employment?
A Claimant has three years from the date of the negligent act in which to bring proceedings. The Courts, however, recognise that in cases involving diseases or illness, you may not know you have the disease or illness until many years later. In those circumstances, the time for bringing a claim runs from the date you were aware, or should have been aware, that your injury or illness was caused by your employment.
What illnesses and injuries can I claim for?
There are numerous industrial diseases and workplace illnesses for which people can make a claim including:-
Skin Diseases such as Dermatitis
Vibration White Finger
Asbestosis and Mesothelioma
Asbestosis is a fibrosis, or scarring of the lungs caused by long term or heavy exposure to asbestos. This usually progresses slowly and can cause severe breathlessness. There is no known treatment to alter the progression of the disease.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos dust.
Mesothelioma initially affected:
asbestos miners (in particular in South Africa)
thermal insulation engineers
asbestos manufacturing workers
However, recent cases show that:
are at higher risk than any other groups.
People who come across asbestos while doing DIY (getting rid of an old boiler, for example), are also at risk. It is, however, possible to contract mesothelioma without actually working directly with asbestos and examples of this include:
working in places where other workers are handling asbestos
washing worker's overalls
living and playing near asbestos factories when they were children
What happens if I suffer a psychiatric injury as a result of my employment?
It is possible to make claims against employers for stress at work. You will have to show that:
Your employers owed you a duty of care and that they breached that duty;
That there was a real risk of illness occurring as a result of your workplace and your employer knew of that risk;
You must show that your employer was aware that the difficulties you were facing were so great that there was a risk of psychiatric illness imminently;
You must then go on to prove that your employer failed to do everything that was reasonable to keep you safe from harm;
You must also show that the illness you suffer is as a result of your working environment, and not because of external factors.
The list of industrial illnesses and diseases is a long one with a number of the more common illnesses and diseases listed above. If you believe you have suffered an illness or injury whilst at work please contact Nockolds and we will advise you further on what steps you will need to make a claim against your employer or former employer.
Nockolds are experienced in dealing with industrial illness and workplace disease claims, and if you believe you may have suffered a disease or illness as a result of your employment, we would be happy to discuss this with you, either at our offices or at your home. The initial consultation will be free, and at that consultation we will discuss with you how your claim can be funded. In certain circumstances it may be possible to enter into a ‘no win, no fee’ arrangement although many of our clients are covered by insurance, either with their home and contents, their credit card or motor insurance.
We first met the community at St Elizabeth's 2 years ago and were awe inspired by everything they do. They provide an environment where individuals with epilepsy feel empowered, valued and supported through the provision of education, workshops and pastoral care.
We have held a number of fundraising events from staff lunches, to quizes and now the big one - the Yorkshire Three Peaks.
We are so grateful for the support from Prontaprint Bishop's Stortford, Sworders and Daniel Robinsons.
Lets try and smash that target!
Wednesday 8th May 2013
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The Francis report which looked into the Mid Staffs NHS Trust scandal has made a number of recommendations. One of these recommendations, which is being considered by the government, is whether or not to implement a duty of candour
A duty of candour is a legal obligation to admit to medical mistakes.
The question is will this duty only apply to hospitals rather than individual employees?
Ivan Moody, a senior solicitor at Nockolds, believes doctors should have a duty to admit to mistakes, similar to the legal obligation Solicitors have to admit to theirs.
The plans favoured by the Department of Health would see hospitals have a duty of candour to inform patients or relatives of serious failings as soon as possible and respond to requests for further information.
The Care Quality Commission will be responsible for ensuring that hospital trusts comply with this duty.
Trusts found guilty of breaking the law will face large fines and may be stripped of their authorisation to run a hospital.
It may be argued that by admitting mistakes the Trusts will be faced with larger legal bills as more and more people will consider claiming but is this really right?
Ivan Moody says “If a person has been maltreated by a doctor or other medical professional it is only right they should be entitled to compensation.”
The NHS may be concerned that this will lead to an increase in costs as more claims are pursued but Ivan Moody believes the reverse is likely to be true “At Nockolds we can spend a considerable amount of time and money in establishing that a Trust, doctor or other medical professional has acted negligently. If a duty of candour is implemented then in many cases the costs of trying to establish whether there has been negligence will be saved and we can concentrate on valuing our client’s claims”.
If you, or a family member, have been affected by the negligence of a medical professional please call Jennie Jones or Ivan Moody on 01279 712535 for a free no obligation conversation and they will advise on what steps can be taken including formal complaints and where appropriate claims for compensation.
What does it mean to you? If you have been or are involved in an accident or suffered an injury (medical negligence, work related disease etc.) before 1 April 2013, you need to get advice now.
On 1 April 2013 the law governing how fees are dealt with in injury and negligence claims will change. It is important to act now.
• Legal Aid will not be available: Public funding i.e ‘Legal Aid’ will no longer be available for medical negligence claims (save for a few exceptions);
• After 1 April 2013 all the costs of pursuing your claim may not be recovered from your opponent: Even if your accident occurred before 1 April 2013, if you instruct your solicitor on a No Win No Fee basis or take out legal expenses insurance for a specific claim AFTER 1 April 2013, the full cost of pursuing your claim will not be recovered from your opponent;
• Your compensation could be reduced: Part of the legal fees(success fee) charged under a No Win No Fee Agreement, if you win your claim, could be deducted from your compensation. This could be as much as 25% of your injury compensation;
• Legal Expenses Insurance: Legal Expenses Insurance will cover the cost of medical evidence, obtaining your medical records, court fees etc. At present, the cost of this insurance is claimed from your opponent. After 1 April 2013 this is no longer possible and so the premium could be deducted from your compensation. Current premiums range from £500 and can be thousands in more complex claims.
• Avoid losing some of your compensation, which could be up to 25%.
• The changes may make it more costly to investigate some claims. Contact us now to find out if your claim will be harder to pursue after 31 March 2013.
• It can take time to gather medical records and get all the information needed to apply for legal expenses insurance. Nockolds advice you to act immediately or you may run out of time to get insurance cover in place before 1 April 2013.
In the Basildon Echo this week there was an interesting article about a steep cul-de-sac where residents have criticised Essex County Council for not providing Salt Bins. This raises the perennial question of what are the duties of a Local Authority to protect the public when snow and ice become a problem on footpaths and roads.
The starting point is the Highways Act 1980 s 41. This imposes a duty on Local Authorities to ensure that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow and ice. It could therefore be assumed that if someone slipped on a footpath or had an accident in their car due to the presence of snow or ice that would be an automatic entitlement to compensation. This is not, however, the case.
Under s58 of the Highways Act 1980 the council have a defence to such claims if they can show that they took reasonable steps to keep the highway in good repair. What these reasonable steps are will be decided on a case by case basis but for example in Pace v Swansea City Council (2007), the council where not liable when the Claimant lost control of his car as they had salted the road earlier in the day. It is therefore clear that Councils do not have to be continuously salting and/or gritting roads to rely on this defence. Most Council now have a “Snow Code” which sets out what they will do in the event of snow and ice building up on roads or footpaths. For more information about Hertfordshire County Council’s policy go to www.hertsdirect.org
If you do fall over or are involved in a road traffic accident where snow and ice has played a part it is worth consulting your local solicitor as they will be able to advise you as to whether the steps which the particular local authority took to deal with snow and ice were sufficient. Our accident Department at Nockolds would be happy to discuss any potential claims at a free no obligation interview either at our offices in Bishop’s Stortford or at your home. If we decided to take on your case we will discuss with you the various ways of funding your claim and where appropriate enter into a Conditional Fee “No Win no Fee” Agreement.
If you wish to have a free confidential discussion with one of our team please call Jennie Jones, Ivan Moody or Rachel Davis on 01279 712534.