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 Queensland you will usually have two compensation options:-
- Statutory claim with WorkCover Queensland
- Common law claim against your 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 respirable crystalline silica, there is a very good prospect that you will have a valuable claim for compensation.
Yes. If you were exposed to silica and you have been diagnosed with silicosis, you have 6 months from diagnosis to lodge a statutory claim with WorkCover Queensland. WorkCover will reject your claim if it is not lodged within six months from when you are diagnosed. If you are uncertain about your rights or the date of diagnosis, we are happy to assist.
There are no time limitation periods in which to bring a common law claim for silicosis in Queensland. However, very strict time limits may apply to other conditions caused by silica exposure including auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma.
If your employment history and respirable crystalline 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.
A statutory claim with WorkCover only takes into account employment based silica exposure in Queensland. It does not cover exposure to respirable crystalline silica through self-employment.
If your WorkCover claim is accepted you will be entitled to receive:-
- Weekly benefits or replacement wages;
- Medical expenses;
- Rehabilitation expenses;
- Travel expenses;
- Pharmaceutical expenses;
- Vocational assistance; and
- Lump sum compensation.
If your condition has been medically certified as a condition that will terminate your life, you may also be entitled to a substantial lump sum award in the order of $700,000.00 to $800,000.00 depending on your circumstances.
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.
To be able to bring a common law claim you need to have an accepted WorkCover claim and 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 claim process involves the preparation of a Notice of Claim for Damages. We prepare this document for you. It is a comprehensive document that explains how the accident occurred, why your employer breached their duty of care and each and every component or head of damage. After the claim has been prepared and lodged with WorkCover, there is a period of six months for medical examinations, disclosure of documents by both sides regarding the claim and then the convening of a settlement conference.
The claims process has proven highly effective for early resolution of claims, particularly if you are represented by a high quality personal injury law expert. It is highly likely that your claim will settle out of court. Approximately 99% of all of our past cases have resolved or settled without needing to go to court or conduct a trial.
Your claim will be subject to a mandatory “pre-court” process that is designed to try and resolve claims before court proceedings are necessary. This process is commenced by delivering a claim form to the negligent or responsible party, followed by the provision of medical evidence in support of the claim and, once your injuries are stable enough, an assessment of damages and offer to settle. We will handle this entire process. Once that is completed the parties and their legal representatives are required to attend a settlement conference to see if an agreement can be reached. Only if that conference is unsuccessful in resolving the matter can a court claim be commenced.
The commencement of a claim in court does not mean that the matter will proceed to a hearing in front of a judge. There may be many more opportunities to negotiate a settlement before that occurs. We will guide you through the court process and ensure your matter is resolved at the earliest opportunity
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. In such circumstances, any compensation from WorkCover is likely to be modest and particularly 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 a WorkCover claim may deliver little in the way of compensation, a common law claim 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 common law claim.
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.
It usually takes between 6 to 18 months to complete a common law claim. If required, this timeframe can be shortened to a matter of weeks if your condition is rapidly deteriorating.
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.
We manage both the court claim and any statutory workers’ compensation claim 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.