If you have been diagnosed with silicosis, you are highly likely to be entitled to receive compensation.
Silicosis is an incurable and progressive lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica dust.
Silica can be found in brick, stone, cement, sand, quartz, grout, mortar, bitumen, marble, granite and engineered stone products. Many occupations are at risk of silica inhalation including stonemasons, bricklayers, tilers and anyone working in the mining, construction, sandblasting or demolition industries.
Many medical experts believe the recent increase in Queensland tradies being diagnosed with silicosis can be linked to stonemasons and other tradesmen cutting and installing engineered or artificial stone products. These products have been extensively used as benchtops in kitchens and bathrooms throughout Australia over the past 15 years. This engineered or artificial stone has continued to increase in popularity as a cheaper alternative to natural stone but contains significantly higher levels of silica.
Silicosis can cause scarring (stiffening) and fluid build-up on the lungs which affects your ability to breathe. This lung disease can also increase your risk of developing conditions such as chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis and lung cancer. The condition may also be linked to auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma.
The symptoms of silicosis can take as little as weeks or as long as 30 years to appear. These symptoms can include coughing, chest pain, chest infections, weight loss, breathlessness and fatigue. The condition can be fatal.
We have significant expertise in recovering compensation for all silica related conditions including:-
- Simple Silicosis
- Chronic Silicosis
- Acute Silicosis
- Accelerated Silicosis
- Complicated Silicosis / Progressive Massive Fibrosis (PMF)
- Lung Cancer
If you have been exposed to silica during the course of your employment in New South Wales you will usually have two compensation options:-
- Statutory claim with ICare / the Dusts Diseases Authority of New South Wales
- Common law claim in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of New South Wales against your former employer and/or the manufacturers/suppliers of the products you were exposed
Which compensation option is best for you will depend on many things including which form of silicosis disease you have been diagnosed with, the severity of your condition, how long you have been living with the disease, whether you suffer from any lung function impairment, your life expectancy, your age, the extent of future treatment options (lung lavages or lung transplants may be required in certain cases) and availability of witnesses to confirm your exposure. We will advise you about which options will best suit your situation.
Significant compensation is also available for dependants of persons who have passed away from silicosis but strict time limits do apply.
Our long experience in handling claims for clients with silicosis means that we have the knowledge and expertise to achieve the best results, while always recognising that time is of the essence. In your time of need, you will find us to be both sensitive and caring professionals absolutely dedicated to achieving the best outcome for you and at a very reasonable cost.
- No Win – No Fee
- Senior Lawyer acting for you from start to finish
- Very competitive hourly rates
- Pay Less Get More policy
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. We offer our services to our clients on a “No Win – No Fee” basis.
At vbr Lawyers, our No Win – No fee policy is this:-
(a) You will only ever pay legal fees for the work we do at the end of your claim and if and only if you win;
(b) We will fund and run the case for you and the legal costs will come out of your settlement monies which are paid by the insurer;
(c) In the very, very unlikely event that your claim goes to court and in the even more unlikely event that a trial is required and you lose, you would still pay us nothing but you are likely to be ordered by the court to pay the other side’s legal costs.
Most likely, yes. If you have been diagnosed with silicosis or any other condition caused by occupational exposure to silica dust, there is a very good prospect that you will have a valuable claim for compensation.
For solely based New South Wales respirable crystalline silica exposure, there are no time limits on making a claim with ICare or bringing a court action in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of New South Wales.
If your employment history and silica exposure also cover other States and Territories, then strict time limits may apply. You need to move quickly to obtain expert legal advice to stop the clock ticking.
An ICare claim only takes into account employment based silica exposure in New South Wales. It does not cover exposure to silica dust through self-employment.
If your ICare claim is accepted you will be entitled to receive:-
1) A disability pension based on your prescribed percentage of impairment level caused by your silicosis condition;and
2) Past and future medical expenses for your silicosis condition; and
3) Paid care.
A common law claim for damages is designed to put you in the same or very similar financial position you would have been in had you never developed silicosis.
A common law claim though the Dust Diseases Tribunal of New South Wales should provide you with a financial buffer or nest egg that the compensation from ICare will not provide.
To be able to bring a common law claim you need to be able to provide negligence or legal fault to recover any damages or compensation.
We can assist you by considering the facts and circumstances giving rise to your work silicosis condition and advise if your claim has reasonable prospects of success. We are experts in providing this important advice.
If your common law claim is successful, you can recover the following:-
(a) Pain and Suffering;
(b) Loss of Wages or Income;
(c) Future Loss of Wages or Income;
(d) Past and Future Loss of Superannuation Benefits;
(e) Out of Pocket Expenses;
(f) Past and Future Medical Treatment Costs;
(g) Care and assistance;
(h) A healthy contribution towards your legal costs which at vbr Lawyers will equate to at least 50% – 60% of your total legal bill being paid by the insurer.
The value of a claim depends on the type of silicosis disease you have been diagnosed with.
Simple silicosis that appears to be stable and is not causing any significant lung damage may only require ongoing medical monitoring with ICare. In such circumstances, any compensation from ICare is likely to be ongoing medical expenses for monitoring the condition. There would not be an entitlement to a disability payment in circumstances where the condition is not causing any permanent impairment.
However, once a worker develops simple silicosis, his treating respiratory doctor may advise him to avoid or cease all ongoing exposure to silica dust. For a highly skilled stonemason, that would mean a change in career. In such circumstances, a common law claim would allow significant damages to be claimed for past and future economic loss and past and future loss of superannuation entitlements.
Therefore, and whilst an ICare claim may deliver little in the way of compensation, a common law claim through the Dust Diseases Board of New South Wales may enable significant damages to be claimed.
For claims where the condition has been relatively stable, damages can range from $150,000.00 to $400,000.00 and potentially higher depending on the circumstances of the case.
It usually takes between 6 to 18 months to complete a court action.
Acute Silicosis / Accelerated Silicosis / PMF / Lung Cancer
These Silicosis conditions are more severe and associated with significant lung damage and higher levels of permanent impairment.
These conditions are also likely to reduce a worker’s life expectancy and may require significant treatment costs with lung transplants often required.
In these cases, damages can range from $800,000.00 to $2,000,000.00 and potentially higher depending on the circumstances of the case.
Although it usually takes between 6 to 18 months to complete a court action. If required, this timeframe can be shortened to a matter of weeks if your condition is rapidly deteriorating.
Yes, but we would need to identify the relevant workers’ compensation insurer on call / on risk during any periods of exposure to respirable crystalline silica.
It is rare for us not to be able to identify a relevant insurer.
Yes. The impact on your health and wellbeing due to your silicosis condition can be isolated from your other medical conditions by expert medical specialists. Even if other medical conditions are present, the effects of silicosis can be identified and compensated.
When bringing a court action, a claim must invariably be made with ICare if not already done.
We manage both the court claim and the ICare claim together on a ‘No Win – No Fee’ basis.
We will explain the likely legal fees upfront and from day one. We provide industry leading transparency regarding our fee structure and fee policy.
No matter what happens or at what stage your case settles, the professional costs will not under any circumstances exceed 30% of the value of the claim.
Fees are calculated on a time costing basis. When compared to other firms such as Shine Lawyers, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and Slater and Gordon Lawyers, you will find that if you retain vbr Lawyers:-
(a) Your legal bill will be lower or a lot lower and by at least 20% to 35%;
(b) Your case will be handled by a Senior Lawyer from start to finish;
(c) Unlike the large firms with big overheads and TV campaigns, your case will not be delegated or handed to a secretary, law clerk, paralegal or junior lawyer. Your case will be handled by a very experienced and senior lawyer at all times.
Any liable party sued in a court action (employer/insurer/manufacturer/supplier) must always make at least a 50%-60% contribution to your legal costs. There is always a small shortfall that comes off any settlement sum, but we always ensure you recover the vast bulk of your compensation funds clear of costs.