I have recently been diagnosed with silicosis and wanted to know if I can I claim for silicosis compensation even though I am a cigarette smoker?
Even though you are a smoker, it is still possible for you to make a claim for silicosis compensation. The damage caused to the deep tissue in the lungs by the inhalation of silica dust is different from the damage that cigarette smoking can do; therefore you may claim compensation for the condition regardless of your smoking habits. When inhaled, silica dust becomes lodged in the lung tissues causing irritation, severe inflammation and scarring (fibrosis) of the lungs.
However, it must be noted that while being a smoker may not disqualify you from claiming silicosis compensation, it can have a negative impact on the amount of compensation that you are entitled to. How much compensation a plaintiff can receive is influenced by their age, general state of health and life expectancy. Since smoking is known to reduce life expectancy, it is likely that the compensation amounts in silicosis claims will differ between smokers and non-smokers as consideration will be given to the fact that symptoms of silicosis can be more severe for smokers. That said it will still be highly worthwhile to claim compensation for silicosis even if the amount of compensation is reduced.
In order to claim silicosis compensation, it must be determined that your employer was primarily responsible for your inhalation of silica dust. Your employer owes you a duty of care to provide you with a safe working environment and to ensure that no employee is placed at excessive risk of injury or of developing an occupational disease like silicosis. Therefore, it is recommended that you engage a solicitor for legal advice on seeking compensation for silicosis as they can assess your claim and will advise you on collecting evidence of employer negligence.
The failure of an employer to supply appropriate protective personal equipment such as dust masks to employees working in an environment where it was likely that they would inhale silica dust is grounds for making a silicosis compensation claim. If you developed silicosis because of a breach in your employer’s duty of care to provide effective personal safety equipment you will be entitled to make a compensation claim for silicosis.