If you have been diagnosed with any form of 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, a material so life threatening it’s being referred to as the “new asbestos” and more dangerous than coal mine dust.
Silica can be found in brick, stone, cement, sand, quartz, grout, mortar, bitumen and engineered stone products. Many occupations are at risk of silica inhalation including stonemasons, bricklayers 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 decade. 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 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 our client with any and all of the following conditions:-
- Acute Silicosis
- Accelerated / Complicated Silicosis causing Progressive Massive Fibrosis (PMF)
If you have been exposed to silica during the course of your employment in Queensland you will usually have three compensation options:-
- Statutory claim with WorkCover Queensland
- Common law claim against your employer
- Common law claim against the manufacturer of the products containing silica
Which compensation option is best for you will depend on many things including which form of silicosis disease you have been diagnosed with, how long you have been living with the disease, your life expectancy, the extent of future treatment options (lung transplants may be required in PMF cases) and your age. We are able to assist in advising you which option will best suit your situation.
Our long experience in representing claims for clients with these serious conditions means that we have the knowledge, expertise and understand that time is absolutely of the essence and 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
- 30% cap on professional fees
- Pay Less Get More policy
Frequently Asked Questions
Most likely, yes. If you have been diagnosed with any form of silicosis lung disease. 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 today, you have 6 months to lodge a 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.
The value of a claim depends on the type of silicosis disease you have been diagnosed with.
Simple silicosis that is not causing any significant lung damage may only require ongoing medical monitoring with WorkCover. In such circumstances, a statutory award of compensation from WorkCover is likely to be a modest sum as the condition would not be causing any significant 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 lump sum compensation, a common law claim may enable significant damages to be claimed.
Acute / Accelerated Silicosis / PMF
These Silicosis conditions are more serious and associated with significant lung damage and higher levels of permanent impairment.
PMF is also likely to reduce a worker’s life expectancy and may require significant treatment costs with lung transplants often required.
If a worker is under 70 years of age and has less than 2 years to live because of his silicosis condition, then over $700,000.00 can be awarded in a WorkCover claim.
Otherwise, any lump sum awarded is based on the level of impairment caused by the silicosis condition. The higher the impairment rating, the higher the award of compensation.
You can accept an award of compensation from WorkCover and bring a common law claim if your Work Related Impairment (WRI) is assessed as being 20% or higher.
If your WRI is less than 20%, then you must elect whether to accept a lump sum from WorkCover or bring a common law claim. If you accept a lump sum from WorkCover in such circumstances, then you can never bring a common law claim in the future.
In our experience, a common law claim tends to deliver a higher award of compensation in serious silicosis matters.
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 should provide you with a financial buffer or nest egg that the WorkCover claim will not provide.
To be able to bring a common law claim for damages, your WorkCover claim needs to be accepted and you need to be able to prove 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 accident/injury and advise if your claim has reasonable prospects of success. We are experts in providing this very 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) In some cases, a healthy contribution towards your legal costs which at VBR Lawyers will equate to at least 50% of your total legal bill being paid by the insurer.
In most silicosis cases, a common law claim would maximise a worker’s lump sum compensation entitlements.
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 discovery 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
Based on our collective 45 year experience in running and resolving this type of claim it usually takes 6 to 18 months for your claim to resolve from the date your WorkCover statutory benefits cease.
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.
When compared to other firms such as Shine Lawyers, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and Slater and Gordon Lawyers, you will find that if you retain Sean, John or Greg from 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.
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