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Can you make an industrial disease claim if the company no longer exists?

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What to do if your current solicitor closes down

One of the main issues which deters people from pursuing an industrial disease claim is that some symptoms can take many years to develop or become noticeable, such as work-related lung cancer, asbestosis or hearing loss. As such, by the time you come to make an industrial disease claim the employer you worked for when you were exposed to the hazard that caused your illness may have ceased trading, and therefore sometimes people incorrectly assume that a claim can no longer be made. However this is not the case.

Employers insurance policies

Under the 1969 Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act, most employers are obliged to have at least £5 million of employers’ liability insurance and a business can be fined up to £2,500 each day if they don’t have insurance. (Some businesses are exempt, including public organisations and some family businesses).

These insurance policies include cover for injury arising from industrial disease and it is from these insurance policies that compensation is paid as the policy remains valid from the period of exposure, despite the company no longer trading. As part of the claim, the company may need to be restored to the Companies House register so it is an active company again but this is something that Stephensons can assist with.

Stephensons have a specialist industrial disease team who can research and locate the details of a company’s insurance policy which provided cover to a business as early as the 1950’s. There are some occasions when an insurance policy cannot be traced but Stephensons may still be able to assist by pursuing a claim under a UK Government Scheme.

How long do you have to make a claim?

Once you become aware that your industrial disease condition could potentially be work related, then the general rule is that you have three years to make a claim. Symptoms can sometimes be difficult to spot, and it’s common for people to be completely unaware that these symptoms are related to any past employment. The initial investigations can be in depth and complicated, especially when trying to locate insurers from many years ago. It is therefore essential that legal advice is sought as soon as possible.

What can you claim for?

Industrial disease illnesses can have an adverse effect on your quality of life, cause pain and suffering, loss of income, nursing costs, legal costs and potential future losses.

In some industrial disease cases, such as mesothelioma, which can sadly end in fatality a family member can make a claim on behalf of the deceased person.

If you or a family member has suffered from a work related illness contact our specialist team today on 0175 321 6399.

By Alex Penk, graduate paralegal in the personal injury department

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