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Lung Cancer Claim

The link between certain materials like asbestos and lung cancer is well known, but there are other known causes of lung cancer and certain substances you may have been exposed to during your employment. If you develop lung cancer due to an employer's negligence, you could be entitled to make an industrial disease claim.


According to Cancer Research UK, there were an estimated 44,500 new cases of lung cancer in the UK in 2012 (latest figures). 89% of these cases were considered to be preventable.

A significant proportion of these cases were identified as occupational lung cancer – caused by unnecessary exposure to carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) in the workplace.

Many chemical compounds used in industry are known to potentially cause lung cancer. If an employee is exposed to a carcinogen as the result of an employers negligence, and develops lung cancer in later life, it is often possible to demonstrate a link between the two.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARCs) has an approved list of known and probable carcinogens. In addition to asbestos and diesel fumes, it identifies a range of other carcinogenic substances and processes specific to lung cancer. These include:

  • Arsenic
  • Beryllium
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Cobalt
  • Ionising radiation
  • Mineral oils
  • Nickel

Exposure to many of these substances significant enough to cause lung cancer usually only occurs in the workplace. High risk industries include manufacturing, construction and mining but anyone who works as a painter or in the production of rubber, aluminium, iron and steel or works as a welder is also at risk. The symptoms of lung cancer often only appear years after exposure, therefore claims tend to relate to past employment.

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Do I have a claim against my employer?

The Health and Safety at Work Act imposes a legal duty on employers to take reasonably practicable, steps to protect the health of their employees. The employer must also provide safety information, instruction and adequate supervision. This obligation applies not just to avoiding immediate injury but also any danger to your long term health.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations require the employer to conduct a risk assessment including any risk from hazards that may cause cancer. Your employer must also identify and introduce preventative and protective measures highlighted by the assessment.

The law is clear. The first aim should always be to completely remove the hazard, but if that is not possible then steps must be taken to reduce those risks to the lowest level possible. For example: substituting less hazardous substances or materials in the production process, or failing that, issuing suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff affected.

How do I prove my condition is work related?

An estimated 21 per cent of lung cancers in men in the UK, and 5 per cent in women, are linked to occupational exposures (Cancer Research UK). Exposure to carcinogens in the workplace also accounts for a large majority of lung cancer compensation claims.

In most occupational lung cancer cases, the employer is liable if it can be proved that:

  • Workplace exposure to carcinogens is the probable cause
  • The employer acted negligently in their duty to prevent unnecessary exposure

The medical expert instructed by us will ask questions regarding past and current employment to ascertain whether workplace exposure was a likely cause.

It may also be necessary to obtain an opinion from an engineer to support the fact of exposure and that this has cause the condition.

My employer is no longer trading. Can I still claim?

It is possible that the employer may have been taken over by another company. If it is no longer trading then we will use our extensive experience to try and trace the employers insurer at the time when you were employed and exposed to the cancer causing agent.

As long as we can identify the relevant insurer a claim can still be made.

Our Experts

  • Sharine Burgess

    Sharine Burgess


    Personal injury, Industrial diseases

    Sharine is a Partner in the Serious Injury department at Shoosmiths and heads up the Personal Injury team based in Northampton. She was appointed joint head of the Northampton Office in 2021.

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  • Sarah Cunliffe

    Sarah Cunliffe

    Senior Associate

    Personal injury

    Sarah qualified in September 2001 and joined Shoosmiths in 2003. Sarah is a serious injury lawyer who deals with a variety of Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence claims.

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  • Kate Price-Marson

    Kate Price-Marson

    Senior Associate

    Personal injury, Industrial diseases

    Kate specialises in dealing with serious personal injury claims, including workplace illnesses, industrial disease, asbestos related claims, and catastrophic injuries. In particular, she has expertise in dealing with multiple defendant claims and those where the former employer is no longer trading.

    View full profile

'Shoosmiths got me the rehab I needed and really helped with my family. They were fantastic throughout.'

Nicola Cooper, who suffered a serious brain injury after a seemingly trivial car accident.

Lung Cancer Claims

We provide free initial advice and can pursue claims on a no win no fee basis. Contact us to discuss your needs in complete confidence. Home visits can be arranged or you can call us on our helpline.

Why Shoosmiths

Who we work with

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