Lead poisoning can occur in a variety of ways, from ingesting contaminated food and water to coming in contact with polluted air or soil. The most common cause though is through occupational exposure or exposure in the workplace. Lead poisoning is a serious condition and can even be fatal if excessive levels of lead build up in the body.
Although thanks to increased awareness, lead poisoning cases are fewer these days, unfortunately, it can and does still occur. Importantly, if you’ve suffered lead poisoning due to your employer’s negligence, you may be eligible to make a lead poisoning claim for compensation.
Please continue reading to learn more about claiming compensation for lead poisoning and your options. For additional information or free advice, please feel free to contact our claims team on 0800 6524 881.
Table of contents
- What Is Lead Poisoning?
- Am I Eligible To Make A Lead Poisoning Compensation Claim?
- Who Are Most At High Risk Of Suffering Lead Poisoning?
- Regulations Regarding Lead Exposure In The Workplace
- How Much Compensation For Lead Poisoning Could I Claim?
- What Types Of Evidence Can Support A Lead Poisoning Compensation Claim?
- What Are The Time Limits For Claiming Compensation?
- Starting The Lead Poisoning Compensation Claims Process
If a person is exposed to high levels of lead over a period of time, they will begin to suffer from lead poisoning. A toxic metal, lead can be found in a variety of sources, these include contaminated soil and water, lead-based paints, and other certain types of consumer products.
Lead may enter the body via inhalation, ingestion, or through the skin. When it enters the body, it can cause damage to numerous parts of the body such as the nervous system, kidneys and other organs. It can also affect the development of the brain in children leading to developmental delays.
Before beginning a lead poisoning claim for compensation, a personal injury solicitor will generally first need to establish that the following points are true:
- The defendant owed the claimant a duty of care; and
- The defendant acted negligently; and
- The claimant suffered lead poisoning because of the defendant’s negligence; and
All the above points need to be verified before a claim for compensation can go ahead. Evidence (which we explain in a later section) will then need to be gathered to support the claimant’s version of events.
Although lead has been replaced by safer alternatives in many products, it is still used in several applications. Lead poisoning is rare after a one-time casual exposure to the substance. It usually occurs when someone is exposed to the dust, fumes or vapour that are generated when lead or lead coating is disturbed. This can happen through a variety of industrial processes.
Some of the more common processes that can put workers at risk of lead poisoning include but are not limited to:
- Blast removing old lead paint.
- Stripping old lead paint from windows, doors, and other structures.
- Spray-painting vehicles with lead-based paints.
- Burning old lead paint.
- Manufacturing lead-based glass or compounds.
- Manufacturing, recycling or breading lead-acid batteries.
- Soldering with metallic lead or other alloys that contain lead.
- Hot cutting in demolitions or certain dismantling operations.
- Recovering lead from waste and scrap.
All of these processes generate minute lead particles in the form of dust, fumes or vapour. These minute particles are easily absorbed in the body through inhalation, or by accidentally swallowing small amounts. While a single episode of exposure or ingestion may not cause severe lead toxicity, repeated exposure over a period of time can have severe consequences.
Symptoms of lead poisoning can vary depending on the level of exposure, and how long the person was exposed to the lead. The individual’s age and overall health can also have an impact on how severe lead poisoning is.
Common symptoms of lead poisoning include:
- Abdomen pain.
- Loss of appetite.
- Weight loss.
- Muscle weakness.
- Joint pain.
In cases where the lead poisoning is severe, seizures, coma and even death can occur.
If you think you, or someone you love, is experiencing symptoms of lead poisoning, it’s important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. We’d then advise contacting our personal injury claims advisors to find out if you’re eligible to claim compensation.
There are various laws and regulations that have been established over the years to protect employees from harm from exposure to lead and other hazardous substances in the workplace. These include:
- The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
- The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).
- The Control of Lead at Work (CLAW) Regulation 2002.
While the first two covers general health and safety at work guidelines, the last two are focused on occupational exposure to hazardous substances and guidance on controlling exposure to lead at work.
All of the above put the onus of workplace safety on the employer. They emphasise that employers have a duty of care to put safety measures in place to protect their workers from all hazards.
To comply with this legal duty of care, employers are required to carry out a thorough risk assessment of the work environment and accordingly implement appropriate health and safety measures to minimise the risks. If an employee suffers from lead poisoning due to employer negligence with regard to their duty of care then the employee could make a lead poisoning compensation claim against them.
With regards to lead exposure, some of these health and safety measures employers can take include but are not limited to:
- Ensuring that all workers undergo initial and ongoing training in handling lead-based substances, with a focus on minimising exposure.
- Fitting indoor work spaces with adequate ventilation to prevent the build-up of lead in the atmosphere.
- Providing workers with appropriate personal protective equipment such as face masks, safety goggles, and gloves.
- Installing appropriate storage facilities for all hazardous substances.
- Conducting routine blood level testing for workers.
- Developing guidelines and procedures for workers to follow when handling lead-based products.
- Ensuring that effective medical treatment is available and easily accessible in the event of accidental exposure to lead.
If your employer failed in any aspect of their duty of care, and you developed the symptoms of lead poisoning as a result, you may be eligible to claim compensation for lead poisoning.
Lead poisoning compensation is not a fixed amount and is determined on a per-case basis. Therefore a settlement will generally be made up of two different types of damages. These are:
- General Damages – Includes level of pain and suffering endured, change in the quality of life, loss of amenity, the extent of treatment needed, and future prognosis.
- Special Damages – Includes medical expenses such as prescription and treatment costs. Travel expenses such as the costs of travelling to and from medical appointments. Loss of income, missed bonuses and promotions, potential future loss of income. Costs of care or home help.
A personal injury solicitor from our team could help you to establish what could be included in your lead poisoning claim, and assist you with providing the subsequent evidence to support your claim.
Being able to back up your claim with sufficient evidence is incredibly important to be able to successfully secure compensation for lead poisoning. Types of evidence may include:
- A copy of your medical records documenting your diagnosis of lead poisoning.
- Photos/video/CCTV footage if available showing how and where the exposure to lead occurred.
- Witness statements from colleagues at work and anybody else that may have witnessed how and why you were dangerously exposed to lead.
- Copies of relevant financial records and receipts documenting the monetary losses you have incurred due to lead poisoning such as receipts for prescription medication, bank statements and wage slips.
If you are still unsure as to what else you may use for evidence, speak to one of our team for expert advice. We could also help you to obtain some of the required evidence if needed.
Compensation claims in the UK for personal injuries have time limits in which they need to be initiated. This comes from the Limitation Act 1980.
For lead poisoning compensation claims, the time limit will generally be 3 years starting from either the date you first noticed you were suffering from lead poisoning, or from the date you were diagnosed with lead poisoning.
You could also make a claim on behalf of someone else if they are unable to do it themselves as a litigation friend. For example, if a loved one has suffered a brain injury from lead poisoning and is unable to deal with the process on their own. The time limit in these types of cases wouldn’t apply until the individual has regained the ability to make a claim themselves if a litigation friend hasn’t done so already.
The time limit is also slightly different if it is a compensation claim for a child. If you are acting as a litigation friend for a child, you have until their 18th birthday to start a claim. If no claim is started on their behalf, they may make a claim for themselves after they turn 18 years of age. They will then have 3 years (up until their 21st birthday) to start a claim.
We can’t stress enough how important it is, in our opinion, to begin a claim as early on as possible. Lead poisoning compensation claims can be complex so the more time your solicitor has to put a strong case together the better.
If you or someone you love has developed lead poisoning due to somebody else’s negligence, and you have decided to file a claim, seeking legal advice and representation is the first move you should make.
If you call us, we can offer you a free consultation to discuss the details surrounding your potential claim. We will only take on claims that have a good chance of succeeding in securing compensation as otherwise we would be not only wasting our time and resources but also unfairly building up your hopes of success.
If we believe your case would be successful, one of our solicitors may offer to process the claim for you on a No Win No Fee basis. They will then use their extensive legal knowledge and experience to build you a strong case with the aim of securing you the maximum compensation.
To speak with a member of our team about starting the lead poisoning compensation claims process, please call us on 0800 6524 881 or connect to our live advice service.