Industrial injury claims and limitation periods – how do they work?

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Usually with compensation claims you have 3 years from the date of your accident, or until your 21st birthday, to register your claim.  If you fail to do so and the deadline passes, you will be unable to seek a personal injury compensation settlement in respect of your injuries and losses.

This limitation period is widely accepted as fair and reasonable as it allows plenty of time for an injured person to consider their situation and evaluate whether or not they wish to pursue a claim, or indeed whether it will be worth pursuing a claim for personal injury compensation.  It also allows sufficient time for injuries and losses to be established.

For industrial injuries or health problem claims, there is still a limitation period in place.  However, there is a slight difference in that the limitation period begins at the date of a diagnosis rather than the actual date of the injury.  This is because the effects of an industrial illness or injury can take many years to materialise and present symptoms.

Claim limitation periods for industrial injuries

In standard accidents at work, the person involved in the incident will immediately be aware of an injury.  They would then be able to decide within a 3 year period about whether or not they would make a claim for compensation.  But if we consider industrial injuries, such as vibration white finger, industrial deafness or mesothelioma (a rare form of cancer almost always caused by exposure to asbestos dust) the symptoms will not present themselves for many years.  Often such problems only become apparent in one’s older years and it would be impossible to make a claim for industrial injury or illness compensation within the 3 year period.  Therefore, the limitation period starts from the date a medical expert diagnoses your health problem as work related.

Although people often quote health and safety as being a bad thing these days, it is because of the awareness of the risks of working repeatedly in noisy environments, or constantly using vibrating heavy tools that employees working today are at far less risk of suffering permanent damage to their health. Sadly in the past, health and safety awareness was a lot poorer than it is today and there are many people in the UK who will qualify for industrial injuries compensation.

If you have recently been diagnosed with a work related health problem or industrial illness, it’s not too late to be compensated. Even if you’ve yet to get a confirmed medical diagnosis, but you have reason to believe that your problems can be directly linked to your working life, you should find out what options you have and understand your rights.

Contact us and we can advise you of the process of claiming compensation for your industrial injuries and the best way to take it to the next stage. As with all claims, should your claim fail, you will not be liable for any charges and won’t have to pay a penny. Direct2Compensation can link you with specialist industrial injuries compensation solicitors and we look forward to helping you to seek compensation for the work related health problems that now affect your daily life.

5 questions have been answered below, why not ask your own?

  1. Hi
    My union appointed a firm of solicitors to act on my behalf in an industrial injury claim against my former employer. I was employed by the same construction company for 44 years before being made redundant. I had a hearing test last year following referral by my local GP and was found to have noise induced hearing loss in both ears and was prescribed two hearing aids. I have since been to see an expert consultant in hearing at Newcastle and he informed my solicitors that the tests he had completed and the test taken at my local NHS hospital had marked differences and effectively my hearing had improved – he has since agreed with me that industrial deafness cannot improve and once the damage is done it is irreversible. He notes that I do show signs of industrial deafness and has now said that the marked difference in tests could be down to lack of concentration or tiredness on the day of the test. He has advised that because of the difference in tests he cannot support the case for industrial deafness as the defence solicitor/barristers will quote medical causation. As a result of this my solicitors now want to close the case. They have advised that I can appoint another solicitor to act for me but have now said I have only to the 29th December 2017 to request another solicitor. I had some symptoms of miss hearing things in 2015 but I was not diagnosed until April last year following an appointment with my GP. The hearing test at the hospital where I was given the hearing aids took place in or around May 2016 and fitting of the aids soon after. I have worked in a very noisy environment for the past 44 years and in enclosed spaces. Hearing protection was not readily available in the early years and it was not until much later in my working life that hearing defenders/ear plugs were readily available.

    My questions are:

    1. Would another solicitor even look at my case? – I have been told by my current solicitor that upon request they would release all the information compiled. I have kept copies of all correspondence between me and my solicitor. They say I have a right to appoint another solicitor to follow up a claim.

    2. If another solicitor took on my claim would the fact that I have changed solicitors mid way through the case be detrimental to any outcome. Would we have to tell the defence solicitors/barrister why companies were changed?

    I would welcome your advice as to how I proceed. I now have a hearing impairment which I believe is a result of my working environment for the past 44 years. I have not been told that this hearing impairment is age related but indeed noise induced hearing loss.

    • I am sorry to read of the problems you have encountered during your claim for Industrial Injuries Compensation.

      To answer your two points specifically, you can seek the services of a new Solicitor and should do so at the earliest opportunity. A new Solicitor will be able to obtain your file of papers from your existing Solicitor and can then review the contents of the same in order to form a view about the likely outcome of the claim going forward.

      The fact that you may be ‘switching’ Solicitor during the claims process is not something that could be detrimental to the outcome of the claim and is not something you would have to be concerned about.

      With regards to switching to a different Solicitor, I would strong suggest that you seek the services of an Industrial Deafness specialist given the little time remaining available.

      Unfortunately, we are not able to take cases on with less than 6 months available.

      • Thank you for the information which is very helpful.

        May I ask a further question as to timescales regarding claims.

        My solicitor states that I have to appoint another solicitor before 29th December 2017 as that will then be three years. She states that from my symptoms I would have been aware that I had problems as far back as 2015, however I am unsure when the actual dates start for industrial deafness claims. Although I had some problems in 2015 and was mishearing things and turning the TV up a little bit louder I did not get a formal diagnosis of deafness and be fitted with hearing aids until mid 2016. My GP records indicate that I attended an appointment on 4th April 2016. If the 3 year timescales starts from that date then I would have until 3 April 2019 to bring a case. My solicitor has mentioned this date in her final letter to me but suggested going on the earlier date but I am confused as to which is now correct. Are you able to clarify?

        • Your current Solicitor has given you that date for a reason, but from what you have said it sounds as if there could be an error and that your remaining available claim limitation period could be longer.

          Without having full sight of your file of papers, it is difficult to advise fully but I would strongly suggest that you discuss the dates with your existing Solicitor in an effort to understand why they are giving you the 29th December as the date.

          Although you didn’t present to your GP until April 2016, your Solicitor has given a view that you initially became aware – albeit without diagnosis – of some hearing issues as far back as 2015. Whilst the date of diagnosis is very important, the courts will also take in to account the symptoms and when you could have reasonably been expected to have began to become aware of the same.

          • Hi

            Thank you for your information. My solicitor has now got back to me and has stated the following:

            Limitation known as the legal deadline by which court proceedings need to be issued within three years from the date that you had knowledge that your symptoms were linked to working in a noisy environment. I have calculated three years from 2015 being 30 December 2017 (Friday 29th December 2017). You confirmed that this is the date when you noticed your symptoms. You could argue an alternative date being the date that is in your GP records, the first entry being 4th April 2016. Therefore limitation could expire on the 4th April 2019. It is better to take the earlier date and you should not hesitate to get early independent advice should you wish to do so.

            This would effectively mean that in January 2015 or earlier December 2014 I first noticed problems with my hearing, That being so I would not have waited over a year and a third to contact my GP. My former solicitor is correct in the fact that I noticed my hearing was not as good as it had been during 2015 but there was no specified date but it certainly was not at the start of the year as I would have sought advice from my GP earlier. At the time I noticed problems with my hearing it did not occur that it could possibly be linked to my job.

            My solicitor has now closed my case. Would any other companies accept this case? I am beginning to think that would be negative.

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