Last updated on May 11th, 2022
Farmer’s lung disease refers to a specific type of allergic reaction that results from inhaling the dust from any mouldy crop. The medical term for this condition is extrinsic allergic alveolitis or hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
Although mouldy hay is the most common cause of this farmer’s lung, it’s not the only one. Farmer’s lung disease can also be caused by inhaling the dust from mouldy corn, grain, straw or silage.
If your symptoms developed due to continuous exposure to mould spores on the job, your employer may be held liable for negligence. Immediately after a confirmed diagnosis of Farmer’s lung disease, you should consider speaking to a personal injury solicitor as you may be eligible to file a farmer’s lung compensation claim.
Who Is At Risk Of Contracting Farmer’s Lung Disease?
Despite its name, it’s not just farmers who are at a higher risk of farmer’s lung. Any individual who handles mouldy crops in enclosed environments is at risk for 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 to due to the negligence of your employer, you may also want to read our guide to farming accident claims here.
Symptoms Of Farmer’s Lung Disease
- Breathlessness or difficulty breathing
- Coughing and wheezing
- Chest infection
- Chest pain or tightness in the chest
- Flu-like symptoms including headache, fever and severe fatigue
With low levels of exposure, Farmer’s lung symptoms may take days or even weeks to appear. However, the symptoms can manifest in as little as four to eight hours after the initial exposure if the worker inhales large volumes of the mouldy crop dust. A persistent cough and shortness of breath are usually the first symptoms to appear, which can quickly progress to sweating, fatigue and weakness, fever and decreased appetite.
Once a worker has contracted Farmer’s lung disease, the chances of making a full recovery are unfortunately very small. More often than not, the affected worker develops a permanent allergic reaction, leading to severe lung damage and death. Even if the symptoms are mild, the worker cannot risk working in a similar environment again for fear of aggravating the allergy. This could potentially result in a lack of employment opportunities.
If you think you may have a Farmer’s lung compensation claim and would like to discuss your situation with a personal injury solicitor you can call us free on 0800 6524 881 for expert advice. or use the form on the page to have a solicitor call you back.
Farmer’s Lung Disease & Employers Duty Of Care
All employers are legally required to conduct a risk assessment of the workplace and accordingly put measures in place to protect workers’ health and safety. There are several things employers can do to protect workers from the risk of Farmer’s lung disease including:
- Take proper care that all crops are dried before storing in an enclosed space
- Ensure that barns and sheds have adequate ventilation
- Provide workers with respiratory masks
- Arrange regular health checks for early diagnoses
If your employer fails to comply with these guidelines they may be acting negligently. If you develop Farmer’s lung because of their negligence, you may have a legal right to pursue a Farmer’s lung compensation claim.
What To Do After A Confirmed Farmer’s Lung Diagnosis
One of the first things you can do after a confirmed diagnosis is to speak to an experienced personal injury solicitor. You should file your Farmer’s lung disease compensation claim within 3 years of developing the condition or within 3 years of a confirmed diagnosis otherwise, you may lose the right to claim.
Putting together a strong compensation claim can take time, which is why it’s important to do set up a free consultation as early as possible. This consultation allows you to get free legal advice as to what you should do next.
If during this initial consultation, the solicitor determines that you have a case, they will discuss the legal, medical and financial aspects with you. Most personal injury solicitors will offer to represent claimants on a No Win No Fee basis.
A No Win No Fee agreement essentially allows you to get expert legal representation without having to pay any upfront fees. All legal costs are covered by the solicitor while the claim is in progress on condition that you pay an agreed fee (calculated as a percentage) if the Farmer’s lung claim is successful. You are not liable to pay any fees if we do not win your claim.
How Farmer’s Lung Compensation Is Calculated
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 are calculated based on the amount of pain and suffering that the illness has caused and its impact on your life, such as loss of mobility or the inability to perform certain tasks.
Current general damages compensation guidelines for lung disease (not including asthma or asbestos-related diseases) are as follows:
- £100,670 to £135,920 compensation for a young person with a serious disability that’s likely to worsen and lead to premature death.
- £54,830 to £70,030 compensation for lung disease that will cause worsening lung function, trouble with breathing and restricting physical activities.
- £31,310 to £54,830 compensation where the lung disease is causing regular breathing problems.
- £20,800 to £31,310 compensation where there may be some wheezing like symptoms but no serious or permanent effect on social or working life.
- £10,640 to £20,800 compensation in cases where there is a shortness of breath but symptoms should improve permanently or substantially at least
- £5,320 to £18,090 compensation where there are no serious symptoms but symptoms persist.
- £2,200 to £5,320 compensation for those with temporary aggravation that only last some months.
Special damages are calculated based on actual losses you’ve incurred because of the illness. This includes factors such as:
- Cost of ongoing medical treatment, prescription medicines and hospital stays
- Travel expenses related to ongoing medical treatment
- Loss of wages from being unable to continue working
- Cost of adapting your home or vehicle to accommodate your inability to function independently
- Cost of home care if necessary
- Cost of childcare if necessary
Your solicitor can also claim compensation for future losses if your symptoms are irreversible and you need lifelong care.
If you would like more information on Farmer’s lung disease compensation claims please call or contact us today and a personal injury solicitor will be available to advise.