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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) & emphysema claims

Around 115,000 people are diagnosed with COPD each year according to the British Lung Foundation. That is the equivalent of a new diagnosis every five minutes!

Two of the main causes of COPD are smoking and exposure to fumes and dust at work. While there may be other ways you might be exposed to the kinds of chemicals and dust that result in COPD, more often than not it is one or a combination of these two factors that causes COPD.

If you suffer from COPD and were exposed to fumes or dust in the workplace, you could be entitled to compensation. Our COPD claims solicitors have, for over 50 years, helped individuals and families of deceased workers who have suffered a range of health issues as a result of their employment.

If you are not sure which employer is to blame, you should still seek expert legal advice as we will be able to research your working history and working conditions. Our COPD compensation experts have helped individuals from across England and Wales and have successfully fought a number of high-profile cases involving workers with COPD.

We offer free advice and guidance without obligation. If you choose to instruct Hugh James solicitors, we will fight your case on a no win, no fee basis. For further details and to receive your free consultation, contact our COPD solicitors today.

What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD covers several diseases that cause damage to your lungs and make breathing difficult. There are millions of people in the UK that suffer from the condition and it is often undiagnosed.

These diseases include:

  • Emphysema
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive airways disease

What are the symptoms of COPD?

The primary symptom of COPD is breathlessness due to narrowing of the airways. Other symptoms include:

  • Persistent coughing with phlegm
  • Wheezing
  • Frequent chest infections

What causes COPD?

A multitude of different types of dust and fume can cause COPD. These include:

  • Cadmium dust and fume
  • Coal dust
  • Diesel fume
  • Dye dust
  • Grain and flour dust
  • Mineral dust
  • Organic/poultry dust
  • Silica dust
  • Welding fume

What industries can cause COPD?

Industries which are known to potentially expose workers to these types of dust and fume include:

  • Agriculture
  • Brickmaking
  • Car mechanic
  • Construction
  • Dockworkers
  • Driving
  • Food
  • Foundry
  • Mining
  • Parking
  • Petroleum
  • Plastics
  • Pottery/ceramic
  • Quarry
  • Road transport
  • Refuse
  • Rubber
  • Steel
  • Stone masonry
  • Textiles

If you have been a smoker and were exposed to dust or fume at work, you can still claim. Your damages may be reduced to reflect the contribution which your smoking made to your COPD.

How might my employer be responsible?

Your employer should have health and safety policies that prevent harmful exposure to chemicals or dust that cause conditions like COPD. Your employer has a duty of care under common law and statute designed to limit your exposure to harmful chemicals or dust. These responsibilities include:

  • Advising you on what the potential hazards and risks are
  • Explaining what the exposure limits are
  • Sharing any results of exposure monitoring with you
  • Providing respiratory protective equipment (RPE), such as masks and filters

If you feel your employer has failed in its duty of care, you need to speak to one of our specialist COPD solicitors today.

Our experience

The Hugh James COPD solicitors work within the Workplace Disease Team. This team has successfully brought some of the largest industrial disease claims in the UK so you can have confidence they have the experience and specialist knowledge that is required for this complex area of law. Our strong reputation in workplace disease litigation has been further improved by recently winning a landmark case where others had failed.

We have helped thousands of people claim millions of pounds in compensation following employer negligence.

Our team of workplace injury solicitors can help with:

  • Seeking interim payments of damages where possible
  • Exploring treatment and other rehabilitation options with insurers
  • Providing benefit advice
  • A free financial check up
  • Financial planning

We offer free advice and guidance without obligation. If you choose to instruct Hugh James solicitors, we will fight your case on a no win, no fee basis. For further details and to receive your free consultation, contact our COPD solicitors today.

Key contact

James Gibson


James is a Partner at Hugh James specialising in group litigation and international asbestos-related disease claims. Having been appointed as a lead solicitor in a number of complex and high-profile group litigation actions, James has successfully settled hundreds of personal injury claims and recovered millions of pounds in compensation for clients over the past 14 years.

Your questions answered

Making the initial enquiry to see if you are able to pursue a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) claim is easy. Simply contact our COPD solicitors either via telephone or our online enquiry form.

To make pursuing a compensation claim as easy as possible you will not have to visit any of our offices. Where necessary, we can arrange home visits across the country or will otherwise discuss everything with you via telephone.

In our initial consultation we will discuss your potential claim free of charge, with no obligation to continue. If your claim has a reasonable chance of success, we will then run you through your options and give you the opportunity to instruct us to act on your behalf on a no win, no fee, basis.

Our team of lawyers are accredited by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

This really depends on your individual circumstances and the severity of your COPD. You can be sure that our specialist team has the experience needed to ensure that you and your family receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to.

Compensation will include an award for the pain and suffering caused by your illness. In addition, compensation can be claimed for care needs, financial losses such as loss of earnings, medical care and treatment.

If you have been injured at work and then exercise your right to bring a claim for compensation against your employer, you should then not be adversely treated by your employer. The reality is that although you may be bringing a claim against your employer in name, your claim will actually be handled by your employer’s insurers or solicitors.

We will trace the employers’ liability insurers of your former employers who will be responsible for paying the compensation you are entitled to.

You typically have three years from the date you were diagnosed with an industrial disease to make a claim. There are exceptions to this, and it is worth contacting us in any event, even if you are outside this time. If a loved one has passed away from an industrial disease or illness condition, you have three years from the date of their death.

If you were a contractor or sub-contractor and somebody else was responsible for your health and safety, then you will be able to claim. You must prove that it was not your responsibility to control your working environment. Unfortunately, if you are self-employed, you are solely responsible for your working environment and therefore you will not be able to pursue a claim.

Only a small percentage of COPD claims brought will actually proceed to trial though we do prepare every case in depth to make sure we are ready should it go to court.

The procedural system is geared towards encouraging parties to be open with each other so that any claims for compensation can be settled without the need for going to court, which can save both time and cost.

A lot of people are naturally nervous and uncomfortable about going to court. We understand this and will advise you every step of the way, should your case reach a trial.

Next steps

We’re here to get things moving. Drop a message to one of our experts and we’ll get straight back to you.

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