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Weil’s Disease Compensation Claims

Weil’s disease is a rare condition and a serious form of leptospirosis. The NHS reports that there are fewer than 40 cases of leptospirosis reported in the UK each year and around only 4 of these cases continue to develop into Weil’s disease. This bacterial infection has very unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms which can have a significant impact on the quality of the patient’s life.

In some cases, Weil’s disease is contracted because of another person’s actions or neglect. In these instances, it may be possible to make a claim for compensation against the person or company at fault.

The most likely third party to be responsible for another person suffering from Weil’s disease is an employer as the infection can be linked to certain working conditions and environments.

What is Weil’s Disease?

Weil’s disease is a bacterial infection that develops from the bacteria Leptospira. A person who contracts Weil’s disease and does not receive swift treatment can suffer from infected internal organs. In serious cases, this can lead to organ failure.

The primary carriers of the responsible bacteria are animals, usually cows, pigs and rats. Humans can contract Weil’s disease through contact with such animals and contact with urine of a carrier animal.

If a human works in an environment connected to infected animals, they can easily catch Weil’s disease through direct contact with animals, their urine or through water or soil that is contaminated with the bacteria. The bacteria can enter the human system through ingestion, open cuts or from a bite from an infected animal.

Symptoms of Weil’s Disease

Some cases of leptospirosis are more difficult to diagnose as the symptoms presented are shared by several other illnesses. Weil’s disease is easier to diagnose as the symptoms, particularly when coupled with the patient’s job, make the condition clearer.

Some of the most common symptoms in leptospirosis and Weil’s disease include:

  • Fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Sudden and severe headaches
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscular aches and pains
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Swollen and red eyes
  • Stomach pain

Doctors will be better placed to diagnose Weil’s disease once they understand the patient’s job or leisure pursuits. Those who come into contact with animals or fresh water sources are more liable to suffer from the disease.

Occupational Links to Weil’s Disease

There are a number of occupations that pose a higher risk to workers for the contraction of Weil’s disease. They include:

  • Farmers
  • Abattoir staff
  • Vets
  • Pest control workers
  • Sewerage engineers
  • Butchers
  • Freshwater divers
  • Waste disposal staff
  • Construction workers

Those who partake in leisure pursuits in similar environments are also at risk. This includes activities such as fishing, diving, some farm-based outdoor pursuits and freshwater water sports.

Can a claim be made following a Weil’s disease diagnosis?

If it can be proven that Weil’s disease was contracted because of a third party neglect, it may be possible to make a claim for compensation. Most claims are made against an employer, who breaches their duty of care and does not maintain a safe working environment.

Employers all have a legal duty of care to ensure that their staff are safe in their jobs. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 sets out the employer’s responsibility to conduct regular and thorough risk assessments of the workplace to remove hazards and minimise risks.

Part of the employer’s legal duty is to ensure that staff are protected against potential risks. If the employer did not provide adequate protection or equipment, they may be liable if an employee contracts Weil’s disease as a result.

Legislation Relating to Weil’s Disease

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has specific guidelines for employers to follow in order to minimise the risk of leptospirosis and Weil’s disease being contracted by their staff. The guidance sets out that employers should:

  • Discuss potential risks and receive advice from a vet regarding animal infection
  • Provide staff with protective clothing and equipment
  • Provide staff with thorough training to ensure that protective clothing and equipment is used properly
  • Provide staff with training on risks and prevention
  • Taking prompt action against pest and rat infestations.

If an employer breaches their duty of care to their staff, and an employee contracts Weil’s disease, a claim for compensation could be brought against them.