Occupational disease

  • Overview

    Our occupational disease team is widely recognised as a market leader across the UK. Handling in excess of 20,000 disease claims each year, our 100+ fee earners offer a cradle to grave service, from pre-litigation handling through to costs and appropriate recoveries at the conclusion of a case. Our service delivery is tailored to meet each client’s needs.

    As you would expect from a market leader, we add value for our clients by providing market insight to help them manage their past, current and future risks and associated costs. Underpinned by market data, our thought leadership and innovation teams advise and publish papers on market trend analysis and claimant supply chain behaviour, which helps to inform our clients’ horizon planning and strategic thinking.

    All aspects of occupational disease claims are handled, including claims relating to:

    We act solely for those defending insurance claims, including composite and monoline insurers, legacy acquirers, global corporates, TPAs and public sector organisations, as well as brokers and other intermediaries. We advise our clients on liability and quantum and the cost of claims, coverage, policy wordings, regulatory issues and fraud. Our centres of excellence for occupational disease are based in Birmingham, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, London and Scotland.

    In the public sector, we act for an unrivalled number of local authorities, unitary and county councils, as well as for utility companies across the whole range of occupational diseases. Our insight and specialist knowledge on previous local government reorganisation, the transfer of liabilities and the TUPE Regulations also mark us out as true leaders in this field.

    We also offer a ‘legacy’ advisory service to our clients to provide assistance and clear guidance on how occupational disease issues can be best managed to prevent further claims. We are also currently working with an increasing number of our corporate clients to help them to best understand their exposure to their long-term liabilities and what they might wish to do about them.

    Our ‘knowledge bank’, designed and developed by our teams working at the coal face of these claims, provides our clients with the tools to inform early decision-making on all aspects of the constituent parts of liability in the disease claims they face.

    To assist clients in responding to the multiplicity of challenges presented by increased globalisation, we provide international coverage through Insurance Law Global and Legalink, as well as our contacts at a large number of law firms worldwide.

    Asbestos

    We are a 25 strong unit of lawyers specialising in asbestos litigation, led by eight partners, who have considerable experience in dealing with these claims. The group encompasses specialists in specific sectors – such as construction, manufacturing, retail, the steel industry and also education; and in specific subjects – such as developments in immunotherapy and treatment, low dose assessments, lung cancer causation issues and the rising cost of claims.

    What we bring:

    • Market data and predictive analytics to inform claimant supply chain behaviours and accurate reserving
    • Collaborative internal and external channels of communication, to generate continuous gathering of market insight
    • Bespoke MI on immunotherapy costs
    • Monthly innovation and problem-solving meetings
    • Specialist recoveries and sanctions team
    • External training provision for clients

    Key contacts: Deborah Edwards, Graham Dean, David Tuck, Lawrence Old, Jim Byard, Jim Bryant, Jonathan Shaer, Kieran Jones

    Noise-induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)

    Our dedicated teams of specialist NIHL handlers have a proven track record of achieving high “nil settlement rates” for our clients. We acted for the successful appellant in the first NIHL case to go before either the House of Lords or the Supreme Court - Baker v Quantum Clothing Group Ltd [UK Supreme Court 2011]. Our team remains at the forefront of cutting edge litigation on issues of de minimis loss, limitation, noise latency and tinnitus aetiology.

    Key contacts: Jim Byard, Paul Debney, Peter Tyler

    Work-related Upper Limb Disorders (WRULD)

    Successful WRULD claims frequently have implications which go beyond the payment of damages and costs, as they strike at the heart of a system of work which can have significant cost implications if a process re-design is needed to avoid future claims.

    Our team has a demonstrable track record in defending both individual and group employee actions. We have in-depth medical knowledge of the conditions commonly presented, ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), tenosynovitis and related conditions.

    We also work closely with our regulatory team to support our clients in best practice and to understand how best to respond to and ultimately avoid future claims and HSE intervention. We will work with you to provide advice not only on the legal aspects of the claim but on the wider systems of work and management of these conditions.

    Key contacts: Keith Jones, Jim Bryant, Peter Ward

    Occupational asthma

    Frequently presented as a 'short tail' condition, claims for occupational asthma and other respiratory conditions range significantly in value, from a few thousand pounds to several hundreds of thousands if employment is compromised.

    Our team will guide you both through the relevant statutory guidelines laid out in the COSHH Regulations and subsequent Enterprise Act and through the relevant medical records and peak flow readings which require consideration to determine the often complex issues of breach of duty, negligent exposure, foreseeability and medical causation.

    Key contacts: Graham Dean, Deborah Edwards, Paul Debney, David Tuck, Lawrence Old

    Group actions

    By their very nature, claims for occupational disease tend to arise out of a process or processes, or a particular working environment. Settlement of one claim can lead to many more. HSE intervention can often lead to a multiplicity of claims, as can factory or site closures. Our occupational disease and regulatory teams work closely with our clients at every stage in the process, to proactively manage the instant claims and the risk profile of future claims. Early intervention and open dialogue at all times, with all interested parties, is key.

    Recoveries and contribution claims

    We recognise that claims for mesothelioma, given their special rules of causation and The Compensation Act 2006, are often pursued against only one defendant/paymaster, despite other potential defendants having exposed the claimant or related third party in breach of duty.

    Our teams based in Birmingham and Leeds provide an unrivalled level of experience and expertise, not only in mesothelioma claims handling, but in unravelling complex corporate structures to identify the correct defendant/paymaster to analyse the prospects of recovery which allow you to recover monies expeditiously.

    Key contacts: Lawrence Old, David Tuck

    Insurance archaeology

    Our recoveries team is supported by our insurance archaeology offering to the market.

    In non-divisible claims our tracing service will help our clients to find other paymasters who were on risk for any period during the claimant’s exposure. In divisible claims, our tracing team will help our clients to find other paymasters to enable them to share the legal costs and/or pass on the potential liability for the claim(s).

    Our insurance archaeology offering has been developed on the back of work within the insurance industry for over forty years. We have achieved significant savings and recoveries for our clients, on the back of knowing where to look and who to speak to.

    Key contact: Jim Bryant

    Publications

    Attempting to avoid trial by jury

    A motion that the pursuers be limited to a judicial trial by virtue of the Prescription and Limitations (Scotland) Act 1973 was unsuccessful.

    Insights

    Diesel engine emissions - what you need to know

    Partner Jim Byard looks at the murky issue of diesel engine emissions, the risks of exposure and offers advice to businesses.

    Jim Byard
    Jim Byard Partner

    Insights

    Forum shopping in asbestos claims | Inner House of the Court of Session overturns decision

    In March this year Lord Tyre was asked to determine a dispute over the applicable law in an asbestos claim. The pursuers argued that it was Scots law,…


    Insights

    Dishonesty on facts relating to limitation is fundamental to a claim

    A claim for noise induced hearing loss was found to be fundamentally dishonest in respect of a claimant’s pleaded dates of knowledge.

    Paul Debney
    Paul Debney Partner

    Insights

    Forum shopping in asbestos claims

    Court of Session ruling prioritises place of manifestation above place of exposure when determining legal jurisdiction in a recent asbestos case.


    Insights

    Court of Appeal case may shed light on future asbestos exposure cases

    This case will be referred to determine the issue of liability in light of the guidance provided by the Court of Appeal. There appears to be a clear…

    Graham Dean
    Graham Dean Partner

    Insights

    HSE Summary 2017: Occupational Disease Statistics

    The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently published their annual summary statistics which revealed the burden of occupational illness and disease…

    Jim Byard
    Jim Byard Partner

    Insights

    The Third Parties (Rights Against Insurers) Act 2010 is not retrospective

    The Third Parties (Rights against Insurers) Act 2010 came into force on 1 August 2016 and was enacted to rectify perceived defects in the Third…

    Jim Byard
    Jim Byard Partner

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