Farmers and other agricultural workers are open to a range of hazards whilst at work, including being exposed to dust and other particulate matter. Unfortunately, this exposure can then lead to health problems, in particular respiratory illnesses such as Farmer’s lung disease, which is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness.
Importantly, if you’re suffering from this disease and believe your employer didn’t do enough to protect you, you may be eligible to make a Farmer’s lung compensation claim.
To speak to us about claiming compensation claim, for farmer’s lung disease call us on 0800 6524 881 today. To find out more about the claims process first, please read on.
Table of contents
- What Is Farmer’s Lung Disease?
- Am I Eligible To Claim Compensation For Farmer’s Lung Disease?
- Who Is At Risk Of Contracting Farmer’s Lung Disease?
- What Types Of Negligence Can Lead To Respiratory Diseases?
- How Much Compensation For Farmer’s Lung Could I Claim?
- Evidence To Support A Farmer’s Lung Compensation Claim
- Time Limits For Claiming Compensation
- Starting The Farmer’s Lung Disease Claims Process
Farmer’s lung disease is also known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis. It occurs when dust or mould spores from grain, hay and other agricultural products get inhaled. These particles can cause the immune system to react leading to inflammation of the lungs which can then result in various symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing and fever and can lead to permanent lung damage if left untreated.
Before being able to pursue a claim for farmer’s lung compensation, a personal injury solicitor will first verify the following points:
- You were owed a duty of care by the defendant; and
- The duty of care was breached due to the defendant’s negligence; and
- The defendant’s negligence resulted in you developing farmer’s lung disease.
We recommend seeking legal advice as soon as possible when intending to file a claim for compensation. This should allow ample time for the above points to be verified and to start gathering the evidence in support of the claim if it’s taken on.
Our solicitors specialise in personal injury claims and can help and advise you on the best course of action to take to secure farmer’s lung compensation.
Despite its name, it’s not just farmers who are at a higher risk of farmer’s lung disease. Any individual who handles mouldy crops in enclosed environments is at risk of developing an allergic reaction. This includes stable, poultry and pet shop workers, circus animal handlers, zoo attendants, and grain handlers. Horse enthusiasts who visit stables on weekends can also develop the symptoms depending on the conditions in the stable.
The risk is relatively low when handling crops in open fields as the spores tend to disperse into the environment. However, the risk increases considerably in enclosed environments such as sheds and barns. The large volumes of hay and crops stored in these places mean that workers can inhale dangerously high amounts of dust while working indoors just for short periods of time.
If you’re a farm worker and believe you’ve become ill or been injured due to the negligence of your employer, you may also want to read our guide to farming accident claims.
When the level of exposure is small, symptoms of farmer’s lung disease can take days or even weeks to appear. However, if a worker inhales a large amount of mouldy crop dust, it might only take as little as four to eight hours for the symptoms to manifest.
Usually, the first symptoms to appear are shortness of breath and a persistent cough. If left untreated this may then progress quickly to fatigue, sweating, fever and weakness, as well as a decrease in appetite.
The most common symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing.
- Chest infection.
- Tightness or pain in the chest.
- Flu-like symptoms such as fever, severe fatigue and headache.
Unfortunately, the chances of a full recovery after a worker contracts farmer’s lung are very small. In some circumstances, the worker will develop an allergic reaction that is permanent which can lead to severe damage to the lungs and even loss of life. Even when the symptoms appear to be mild, to avoid aggravating the allergy, a worker should not risk working in that kind of environment again. This in turn can result in a lack of employment opportunities.
If you have developed farmer’s lung due to your employer’s negligence, you may be entitled to make a farmer’s lung compensation claim.
Employers are legally obliged to provide a safe working environment for their employees in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. If an employer is negligent in their duty of care to keep their workers safe to the best of their ability, they may find themselves liable to pay compensation if an employee or worker contracts an occupational respiratory disease such as farmer’s lung disease.
Some of the ways in which an employer’s negligence could lead to farmer’s lung disease include:
- Not providing employees with adequate PPE – Employers have a legal obligation to provide their workers with adequate PPE such as masks, gloves and goggles when there is a chance they may be exposed to dust or allergens at work.
- Not providing sufficient training and education regarding the risks of farmer’s lung – Employers are required to provide appropriate training on the risks of being exposed to dust and allergens, and how to correctly use the right PPE. Failing to do so could result in employees being unaware of the dangers and risks, therefore increasing the chances of developing farmer’s lung.
- Not maintaining a safe working environment – Employers are required to make sure the workplace is a safe environment and free from any hazards. Failing to remove dust and allergens, not keeping the workplace clean, and failing to maintain equipment that reduces a worker’s exposure, can all lead to an increased likelihood of respiratory diseases.
- Exposure to hazardous substances – Employers are required to follow the strict regulations as set out in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002 regulations (COSHH). Therefore, employees must be protected from exposure to hazardous substances such as pesticides and herbicides.
- Lack of regular health checks – Regular health checks should be provided to workers exposed to certain risks to health, to look for any signs of respiratory illness. Without these checks, any early signs of disease may be missed which could then lead to the disease becoming worse.
If you believe you have developed farmer’s lung disease due to the negligence of your employer, you may be within your rights to claim compensation. Contact us on 0800 6524 881 and a claims advisor can check if you have a viable case.
There is no fixed settlement amount that is awarded to claimants who have contracted Farmer’s lung disease. Each claim is assessed on its merits and compensation is calculated by assessing a number of factors. These are divided into two categories – general damages and special damages.
- General Damages. These cover the physical and mental effects of your illness. The level of pain and suffering you have endured is taken into consideration, as well as the impact on your quality of life, and what the future holds for you in regard to the illness.
- Special Damages. These cover all of the expenses and financial losses you may have incurred as a result of contracting farmer’s lung disease. Such expenses may include medical and travel expenses in relation to your illness, any care costs if you have needed help around your home, and any loss, or predicted loss of income.
Our solicitors will be able to further advise you on what could be included in your farmer’s lung claim. They will make sure that everything is taken into consideration to ensure you can pursue the maximum amount.
Understandably, you typically won’t successfully file a claim for compensation against an employer without being able to back up your version of events. It would be just your word against the defendants. Therefore, it is incredibly important that you gather as much evidence as you can that shows why your employer’s negligence led to you developing farmer’s lung disease.
Evidence to support your claim may include:
- Medical Records. Getting a diagnosis of farmer’s lung as soon as possible is first and foremost important for your health. But it will also provide a valuable piece of evidence.
- Photos/videos/CCTV footage. Providing video or CCTV footage and/or photos of your working environment, if possible, to where or how you believe you contracted farmer’s lung disease.
- Witnesses statements. Collect contact details of any witnesses that can back up your claim such as work colleagues.
- Records of expenses. Keep an account including receipts of any expenses directly related to your becoming ill.
- Diary. Keep an account of how you feel daily, the symptoms you have experienced and how they have affected your daily life.
You should start collecting evidence to support your claim as soon as you can to enable enough time to get everything you need to build a strong case. Our solicitors may be able to assist you in gathering the evidence needed for a farmer’s lung compensation claim.
In accordance with the Limitation Act 1980, the time limit given to file a personal injury compensation claim in the UK, is 3 years. The time limit for farmer’s lung would usually start from when the disease was diagnosed.
However, we’d advise seeking legal advice from a personal injury solicitor on our team as early as possible if you are unsure as to when your time limit begins.
If you contact us to discuss your claim, we can advise you on whether you have a viable case during a free, no-obligation, consultation.
If we believe you have a good chance of success, we may offer to pursue your claim for you on a No Win No Fee basis. This means you can have legal representation with no upfront costs or out-of-pocket expenses.
Please call us on 0800 6524 881 if you have any questions on the process of making a farmer’s lung compensation claim today.