Medical Negligence And Respiratory Disease Claims

By Marlon Rudy. Last Updated 12th August 2022. Have you been the victim of a lung disease that was misdiagnosed? 10,000 people are newly diagnosed with lung disease in the UK every week.

Respiratory disease claims for compensation could be made if you can prove your illness was missed by a medical professional because they acted in a way that deviated from their professional standards.

To have a valid medical negligence claim you must be able to demonstrate how the negligence made you suffer more than you would have. This article explains the process you could follow to see if you are eligible to make out a claim for damages.

Respiratory disease claims guide

Respiratory disease claims guide

A respiratory disease compensation claim needs certain evidence to prove that you were negatively impacted by a negligent miss diagnosis.

You might feel daunted or nervous at the prospect of finding evidence such as this. At Medical Negligence, our friendly and knowledgeable team can talk about your case and answer these concerns.

This is in complete confidence with no obligation to proceed in any way. Simply:

Select A Section

  1. What Are Respiratory Disease Claims?
  2. What Are Respiratory Diseases?
  3. Symptoms Of Common Respiratory Diseases
  4. Causes Of Respiratory Disease
  5. Types Of Respiratory Disease
  6. How Could Respiratory Diseases Affect People?
  7. Examples Of Negligent Treatment For Respiratory Diseases
  8. Respiratory Disease Negligence Claim Time Limits
  9. Medical Negligence Cases Payouts In The UK
  10. No Win No Fee Respiratory Disease Claims
  11. Get Advice About Your Claim
  12. How Common Are Respiratory Diseases?
  13. References
  14. Respiratory Disease Claim FAQs

What Are Respiratory Disease Claims?

People can develop a respiratory or lung disease problem as a result of their workplace conditions, as well as smoking or genetic factors. Laws exist to ensure that employees are kept as safe as possible in the works. When you visit your GP or healthcare provider with this issue, you have a right to expect that you will receive a good standard of healthcare and that any problems will be accurately spotted. The effectiveness of the treatment you receive relies upon this accurate diagnosis.

For a variety of reasons which we examine below, it can be possible to receive substandard health advice and care. If serious respiratory conditions go undetected or are misdiagnosed it can lead the condition to deteriorate. To make a successful medical negligence claim the onus is on you to prove that the care you received was of a poor standard. And that if the care would have been at the right level you would not have suffered as much as you did.

The Care Quality Commission who inspects, regulates, and monitors all health care delivery puts in place regulations to help health care providers provide the correct level of care.

What Are Respiratory Diseases?

Respiratory disease is categorised as upper and lower. Upper respiratory disease can be caused by viruses entering the mouth and nose. These can include the common cold and throat infections. Whereas lower respiratory infections tend to be more serious. Lower respiratory illness and infection can include; Bronchitis, chest infection and pneumonia.

Specifically for respiratory disease claims based on a misdiagnosis, you must be able to show how a medical practitioner deviated from the standards expected of them causing you to be incorrectly diagnosed. Proving that the negligent misdiagnosis caused you more suffering than you needed to go through can come in the form of medical reports. Speak to our team to get started.

Symptoms Of Common Respiratory Diseases

Changes in breathing patterns can be the most immediately noticeable symptom of respiratory disease. Whilst shortness of breath can be a normal response to exertion if it does not normalise and you find yourself struggling to breathe normally, this can be a sign of an industrial-related respiratory problem. There are other tell-tale signs, such as:

  • A stubborn, persistent cough
  • Snoring issues or sleep disturbances
  • Noisy breathing
  • Mucous on the chest
  • Coughing up blood
  • Lingering chest pains
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

Do you work in an environment that may have deficient or substandard ventilation issues? If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important that you properly report your concerns to your line manager and perhaps have them recorded in the accident log or RIDDOR system. The issue that you have perhaps dismissed as a stubborn chest cold could be something more serious. It’s important to remember, industrial diseases have the potential to be fatal.

Causes Of Respiratory Disease

Obviously, as we breathe we take in particulates of all the objects or processes happening around us. Smoke, exhaust fumes, chemicals, pollen – can all cause us to experience breathing problems.

The body can assimilate much of this pollution and rid itself of it, but continued exposure doesn’t allow the lungs sufficient time to clean themselves. As the damage accumulates, it becomes harder for the lungs to function properly, airflow becomes restricted and you start to develop a cough. A cough is the lungs’ attempt to literally ‘shake free’ the coating of pollution that is inhibiting the breathing. Over time the cough can become habituated. You may stop noticing that you are coughing all the time.

However respiratory disease can be caused by other issues such as smoking, industrial work, working with asbestosis and other harmful substances. You may be unaware of what is causing your breathing issues which is why it’s essential to seek medical advice as soon as possible if you experience any breathing patterns or persistent issues. Persistent exposure can lead over time to very serious lung disorders that can develop, worsen and become incurable.

Types Of Respiratory Disease

Respiratory diseases cover a wide range of conditions, some of which are quite minor and resolve themselves, others far more concerning. Chronic problems radically alter the patient’s life and require constant monitoring and treatment. The highlighted links below take you to NHS information about some of the most typical examples:

It’s important to note that you can experience any of these conditions to one degree or another and it’s also possible to suffer from a combination of them. Medical negligence can increase the risk of symptoms getting worse, possibly developing into life-threatening conditions.

How Could Respiratory Diseases Affect People?

In addition to the health issues mentioned above, respiratory issues can devastate the lives of those they affect in other ways. Shortness of breath can result in feelings of lethargy and fatigue. This may make normal working difficult for the sufferer, which in turn may mean they miss work and suffer a drop in their income. This could result in real poverty issues that greatly reduce their entire quality of life.

Furthermore, personal relationships could suffer. As someone with constant chest pain or cough the victim may become anxious or depressed. The mental ill health created by constant health worries could place a strain on their personal relationships causing family problems or adding to the burden on partners and children. Their education could suffer. Divorces could commence. Respiratory diseases, like any health worry, can place an intolerable burden on the victim and their families, which is why a clear and accurate diagnosis is so important.

Examples Of Negligent Treatment For Respiratory Diseases

As some chronic respiratory diseases (CRD’s) are incurable, they rely on accurate treatment. Respiratory disease claims can be constructed when it’s possible to prove that medical negligence resulted in worsening your condition or failing to spot it either quickly enough or at all. Medical negligence could cause;

  • A delay in treatment
  • Failure to properly read an x-ray, MRI, or CT scans
  • Not properly listening to the patient
  • Failing to discuss alternative treatment options
  • Confusion over patient notes or misreading data
  • Over or under prescribing medications
  • Treatment plans based on incorrect assumptions
  • Infection issues in care

Many of these issues could be the result of human error. Without doubt, NHS and medical staff try to do their best and the NHS performs millions of medical procedures successfully every day. For the patient, an oversight or misreading of their notes can be fatal. An x-ray improperly read might mean their condition worsens and they go on to become much more ill than they needed to. Catastrophic health issues can arise from a missed or misdiagnosis.

The Bolam Test

Medical negligence can be difficult to establish. In many cases, it could be a case of the patient not responding to treatment as hoped for or even not following the doctor’s advice. However, in cases where it does seem that incorrect assessment was given or a diagnosis was made erroneously, a test called the Bolam Test is used to determine if a medical professional breached their duty of care.

A Tort Law ruling, the Bolam test defines the appropriate standard of reasonable care involving skilled professionals in negligence cases. The test expects standards to be in accordance with a ‘responsible body of opinion’ or in other words, that the doctor did what a group of his or her peers would have done in the same position.

If these peers judge that the surgeon or medical practitioner did all they reasonably could to deliver correct diagnosis and care, they are not judged to be negligent. The outcome of a Bolam test would have a huge bearing on the direction of any compensation case you may hope to successfully bring.

Respiratory Disease Negligence Claim Time Limits

Medical negligence and respiratory disease claims have a 3-year time limit. This time frame begins when you first become aware of the avoidable harm caused by medical negligence – you would have 3 years from here to start a claim. Claims must be started within that three-year period, but if the claimant is under the age of 18, a ‘litigation friend’ can act on their behalf up until they become of adult age. The time period for under 18-year-olds commences when they reach their 18th birthday.

Medical Negligence Cases Payouts In The UK

A payout for medical negligence could be comprised of two heads of claim. These are:

  • General damages –compensation awarded for the pain and suffering caused by an injury
  • Special damages – compensation paid to address the financial effects of an injury

Both types of compensation will be calculated according to the individual needs of each claimant.

The table below shows some pain and suffering settlement examples in the UK. These are from the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) – a publication that lists awards for general damages for various injuries. The publication looks at previous claims that have gone to court and creates compensation brackets based on the settlements.

We have created a chart featuring some of the respiratory illnesses and injuries listed in the 2022 edition of the JCG to show you an example of an injury payout for medical negligence.

Illness/InjurySeverityPotential award
Lung disease (a)Serious issues affecting young person with probability of worsening issues £100,670 to £135,920
Lung disease (b): CancerSerious impairment of quality of life in an older person£70,030 to £97,330
Lung disease (c): EmphysemaLong term breathing difficulties and increased risk of deterioration£54,830 to £70,030
Lung disease (d): Asthma/breathing issuesbreathing difficulties, asthma and the need of regular use of an inhaler£31,310 to £54,830
Lung disease (e): BronchitisWheezing and breathing issues but no serious impairment on ability or quality of life£20,800 to £31,310
Lung disease (f): Breathing problemsslight breathlessness, and likelihood of complete recovery within a few years£10,640 to £20,800
Lung disease (g): Slight breathing problemsprovisional awards for more minor issues that fall outside of other categories£5,320 to £18,090
Lung disease (h): Mild chest complaintstemporary aggravation of the lungs, very mild bronchitis£2,200 to £5,320

If you get in touch today, our advisers could help you and give you an estimate for compensation for your claim.

Special Damages

You could also claim special damages. But only for the losses caused by the medical negligence, not the losses caused by the illness or injury overall. At a time when you are least able to deal with additional costs, you may need to pay for specialists, physiotherapy, counselling, child care issues, or just help around the house as you recover.

These amounts can really add up. Special damages give you a chance to collect together proof of all these costs and present them as part of your claim.

Importantly, the costs you can claim for have to be as a result of the misdiagnosis, not necessarily the illness. In addition to this, some diagnostic or health care delivery procedures carry an inherent risk and medical staff is not automatically or immediately liable for a problem that arises. Speak to our team about your case to see how you can prove liability in your particular case.

No Win No Fee Respiratory Disease Claims

Respiratory disease claims can be complex. Pulling together all the relevant evidence to prove that a medical professional actually failed in their duty to diagnose or deliver the right care can be demanding and time-consuming and heavy with legal jargon. It might be easier to let a professional legal representative do it on your behalf and No Win No Fee solicitors offer an excellent option. In view of this, the benefits of No Win No Fee agreements include:

  • There are no up-front fees that need to be paid to your lawyers
  • No fees to be paid as the case develops
  • There are no fees to be paid at all to your solicitor if your case does not succeed
  • No Win No Fee solicitors only deduct a small fee from cases that win
  • This amount is capped to keep it low and fair

This means that all you need to do is give your lawyer as much medical evidence and financial documentation as you can and let them get on with it. No Win No Fee has helped thousands of people just like you get the legal help they may need.

Get Advice About Your Claim

Talk to us about how to connect with a lawyer who could help you in this way. It’s no longer necessary to use the services of the law firm local to you. Excellent as they may be, you could access legal representation from anywhere across the UK today.

Simply give our team a call and briefly discuss the general details of your case. They can advise about potential eligibility and offer advice about how to connect with No Win No Fee solicitors who could help you today:

How Common Are Respiratory Diseases?

Evidence suggests that respiratory disease can affects around 1 in 5 people in the UK. It is the third biggest cause of death. The burden to the economy of asthma and COPD on the NHS is somewhere in the region of £3 – £1.9 billion respectively and lung conditions, in general, are believed to cost the NHS around £11 billion a year.

Disadvantaged groups are the ones most seriously affected. This can be low-wage workers and people with underlying health conditions other than respiratory issues. Areas of deprivation and where there is a prevalence of smoking or other activities can be a factor. People who are forced to live besides factories or very busy roads can also suffer an increased likelihood of lung-related illnesses.

In the past seven years, hospital admissions for lung disease have risen to almost three times that of other illnesses and present a major problem and a serious factor in pressures faced by the NHS during winter. The Government; health matters, how to prevent lung-related disease by improving lifestyle choices and urging people to give up smoking through warnings on packets and advertising bans.


In conclusion, thank you for reading this article on respiratory disease claims and how you could make one.

Below, you can find links to all of our medical negligence claims guides:

Respiratory Disease Claim FAQs

Can you claim compensation for lost wages?

In order to make a special damages claim for loss of earnings, you must be eligible for general damages. You would need to prove medical negligence caused you harm that would not have happened which lead to you needing time away from work. You would need to provide actual proof of these losses. This can be in the form of wage slips.

Is it possible to sue the NHS?

With evidence that shows how the care you received was substandard, you could have grounds for a claim. You would need to prove medical negligence caused you harm that would not have happened.

Is it unfair to take the NHS to court?

Nobody wants to start legal action. But anything that caused detriment to your health from a nurse, GP, or hospital specialist might qualify. All medical staff have a duty of care. Some medical procedures carry an inherent risk.

Can I start a respiratory disease claim on my own?

Anyone can start respiratory disease claims. You do not need to use the services of a legal professional. However, given the complexity of cases such as this, it makes far more sense to trust someone with expertise in these matters to guide your search for compensation and help you receive the maximum settlement amount possible.

Can you claim for COPD?

COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a serious and degenerative lung condition caused mainly by smoking. It may be caused by industrial illnesses. As we mentioned above, it may be that your first point of complaint should be a case against your employer for exposing you to hazardous environments at work. You could have a claim against your employer.

Guide by Jeff

Edited by LisM.