Occupational Asthma Compensation Claims

Do you suspect you are suffering from occupational asthma? Or is your pre-existing asthma made worse due to your work conditions? You may be entitled to an occupational asthma claim. Read our guide to find out if you're eligible and the steps to take to make a successful occupational asthma compensation claim.
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Cancer accounts for 24% of global work-related deaths. Occupational cancer occurs when employees come in contact with carcinogenic substances in their workplace. Certain substances are associated with different cancers, and certain carcinogens can be specific to certain industries.

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What is Occupational Asthma?

Occupational asthma can be a new illness or your chronic asthma can become worse due to your working conditions – both are considered to be occupational asthma.

Work related asthma symptoms start when your lungs become inflamed. This inflammation can be caused by breathing in substances, like dust, chemicals, fumes or animal fur. Over time your immune system becomes sensitive to these substances and you start to develop occupational asthma.

You will first notice that your airways start to feel restricted and your breathing becomes difficult. You usually go on to develop wheezing, breathlessness, coughing, and a tight feeling in your chest. It's important to not ignore these asthma symptoms as you can risk permanent damage to your lungs and develop other ongoing health issues due to work related asthma.

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What Causes Occupational Asthma?

The risk of developing occupational asthma is higher for some occupations and industries including hairdressers, beauticians, mechanics, cooks/bakers and healthcare workers. These groups are considered to be more at risk of developing allergic occupational asthma due to the higher levels of allergens or irritants at work.

Examples of occupational allergens can include:

  • Flour and additives
  • Latex from gloves
  • Animal fur, skin and saliva - from working with and around animals
  • Grain and poultry dusts
  • Vapours and particles in hospitals – particularly cleaning products

Examples of occupational irritants can include:

  • Chemicals in particular paints
  • Hazardous substances
  • Bleach and other products used in hairdressing salons
  • Wood dust
  • Fumes, mists and vapours

Your employer has a duty of care to you and other employees to ensure you are all protected from the risk of developing occupational asthma. You should be provided with a safe and healthy workplace. If employees are not safely inducted or have access to the required safety equipment to do their jobs, employers risk being liable for occupational asthma claims due to their negligence.

Can I Make an Occupational Asthma Compensation Claim?

It’s estimated that around 2.7 million Australians have asthma, with the number of occupational asthma related diagnoses on the rise. Occupational asthma can cause serious issues and complications if left untreated.

If your work environment causes you to develop work related asthma or your pre-existing asthma worsens you may be able to lodge an occupational asthma claim. As every situation is different, and each diagnosis of asthma is unique, having an experienced compensation lawyer on your side will ensure the full scope of your situation is understood and you have access to the maximum compensation for your needs.

Occupational asthma may require ongoing medications, medical care and lengthy amounts of time off work to enable you to recover. These factors may in turn cause you undue financial stress and in the worst case, you may need to stop working in your preferred industry.

It's important to note, that you may still able to make occupational asthma claims even if you had pre-existing asthma, or if you are, or were, a smoker. Our lawyers may still be able to help you to establish that there is a higher risk of you suffering a lung condition due to the nature of your employment and work with you to establish how much compensation you need.

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What Are the Long Term Effects of Occupational Asthma?

If you ignore your occupational asthma symptoms or you are not correctly diagnosed by a medical professional, occupational asthma can cause permanent lung damage, disability or death.

With the correct diagnosis, occupational asthma is manageable and you shouldn't suffer long-term complications. The best way to help you recover from asthma symptoms is to remove yourself from the occupational triggers as you may need to allow your immune system to fight off the inflammation in your lungs.

Occupational asthma is treated mostly like other types of asthma. This generally includes taking medications or doing daily exercises to reduce lung inflammation and help strengthen your lungs. If you already have developed asthma, sometimes an adjustment to your regular treatment plan can prevent it from becoming worse when you're at work.

The longer you're exposed to substances that cause occupational asthma, the worse your symptoms may become. It may take longer for your occupational asthma compensation claim to settle if you don't ignore your asthma symptoms and alter your working conditions.

How do I Make a Claim for Occupational Asthma?

If you suspect you have developed occupational asthma, firstly you need to visit your doctor and undertake testing and assessments to gain an official diagnosis. Be sure to let your doctor know what sort of work environment you work in and if there are any substances or irritants that you believe are causing your symptoms.

Once occupational asthma has been established, you may be able to claim for workers' compensation from WorkCover Queensland.

Our experienced compensation lawyers know the ins and outs of making a claim for compensation for occupational asthma – be sure to get in touch with us before it's too late.

There are strict timeframes for making a compensation claim for occupational asthma, the claim must be made within six months of acquiring asthma. This time limit may be extended in some industrial disease cases. However, we recommend you lodge a claim with WorkCover Queensland as soon as you become aware of your diagnosis.

You may be able to make occupational asthma claims for your work-related illness, which will help you get the support and treatment you need. Occupational asthma compensation may cover:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Chest screening or scans
  • Rehabilitation treatment and equipment services
  • Travel expenses for appointments
  • Lump sum benefits in some circumstances
  • Support in returning to work, either in your pre-existing role or a new role

What Does it Cost to Make an Occupational Asthma Claim?

As with pursuing any legal action, there are costs involved in bringing a personal injury claim for occupational asthma. It is important to understand that there will be professional fees to cover work carried out by your solicitor in investigating your claim, providing legal advice and representing you.

We offer a ‘No Win. No Fee. No Catch’® promise, which means there are no upfront costs and you will never be left out of pocket. In the unlikely event that your case goes to court, and you are unsuccessful, we'll cover the costs - so you won't pay a cent to us or anyone else.

Legal fees are calculated on the amount of work done and will be explained to you in full before your claim for compensation is started and before you sign any kind of agreement.

However, it is important to keep in mind that in Queensland, the charging of professional legal fees in speculative personal injuries matters is regulated and there is a 50/50 rule which caps the fees a law practice can charge in these matters.

This rule states that law is practice is entitled to charge a client no more than half the amount to which they’re entitled to under a judgement or settlement, after deducting certain expenses a client is required to pay, including disbursements.

Disbursements are the costs incurred by a legal firm in pursuing your claim. These include report fees, investigations, court filing fees and barristers fees if your case ends up going to court.

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How Long Do Occupational Asthma Compensation Claims Take?

We will do everything possible to make your compensation claim as smooth as possible. Every occupational asthma claim is different, and sometimes the timeframe for settlement will vary greatly.

The length of time it may take to settle your claim can be dependent on the complexity of your injuries. Time is also needed for your injuries to become stable to determine the likely long-term impacts of your occupational asthma. Our compensation lawyers want to see you receive the compensation entitlements that will assist you to getting back on your feet sooner.

It’s important to try and be patient throughout this process to allow your solicitor to fully assess and pursue your claim, making sure you receive the maximum amount of compensation you’re entitled to.

Lodge A "No Win No Fee" Claim

If you suffer injuries whilst at work, and you are looking for further information in terms of making a claim. Here at Smith's Lawyers, we offer a free consultation for injured people looking to seek compensation. As mentioned before, we also have a "No Win. No Fee. No Catch." policy, which means you will never be out of pocket.

Get in touch with us today to give yourself the best opportunity to understand your rights.

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