Pneumonia is an inflammation of the tissue in the lungs usually caused by a bacterial infection. The tiny air sacs located at the ends of the breathing tubes in the lungs fill with fluid and become inflamed when you contract pneumonia. Usually pneumonia is caused by a bacterial infection with streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, although there are other types of bacteria which can be responsible for infection too. Other types of pneumonia include viral pneumonia, hospital-acquired pneumonia (such as ventilator-associated pneumonia) and fungal pneumonia.
Did you know that around eight in 1,000 adults a year are affected by pneumonia in the UK, and that the condition is most common in the autumn and winter months? If you’ve been struck down by pneumonia and somebody else was at fault then you could make a claim for pneumonia compensation with Accident Advice Helpline, providing it’s been three years or less since your illness.
Who is to blame?
Of course you can’t just make a personal injury claim if you have developed pneumonia and nobody else was to blame, but there are some circumstances in which you could make a claim for pneumonia compensation. For example, if you have acquired pneumonia after a stay in hospital caused by the hospital’s poor hygiene, you could be entitled to personal injury compensation. Patients in hospital for breathing difficulties or using a ventilator could be at risk of developing ventilator-associated pneumonia. Or if you have become ill at work after your employer made you work in conditions which were damp or cold for too long, you may be eligible to claim compensation as they have breached health and safety regulations.
In all cases, a proper medical diagnosis is essential to ensure that you get the treatment you need – and this report will also form useful evidence if you decide to claim for pneumonia compensation. The good news is that the rate of hospital deaths from pneumonia is decreasing, dropping by 14% from 2009-2015. The not so great news is that pneumonia is still the sixth biggest cause of death in the UK, killing 29,000 people a year.
Symptoms of pneumonia
Symptoms of pneumonia can develop slowly over a period of several days, or you can become unwell quickly over 24 to 48 hours. The most common symptoms of pneumonia include:
- Shivering and sweating
- Feeling generally unwell
- Difficulty breathing
- A cough which can be dry or produce phlegm
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid heartbeat
- Chest pain
Less common symptoms that can affect you include fatigue, headaches, wheezing, joint and muscle pain, coughing up blood and feeling disorientated. You should see your GP if you think you have pneumonia – if symptoms are severe then you should visit your nearest hospital A&E department.
Treatment and prognosis for pneumonia
Depending on the type of treatment you receive you may need to take time off work, which could range from a few days to a month or more. If you have to take time off your earnings can be affected, and Accident Advice Helpline could help you claim for pneumonia compensation for your loss of earnings due to a pneumonia diagnosis. Your GP will usually listen to your back and chest using a stethoscope, and take your temperature, as well as asking you about your symptoms. For severe cases, blood tests or a chest x-ray may be needed.
Treatment for mild cases of pneumonia is usually a case of resting at home and drinking plenty of fluids; your GP may prescribe antibiotics if your symptoms don’t show signs of improvement. Whilst pneumonia is not contagious, you should avoid contact with anybody who has a weakened immune system, as they could be at an increased risk of contracting pneumonia. Complications can include:
- Lung abscess
- Blood poisoning
- Pleurisy, an inflammation of the lining between the lungs and rib cage – this can lead to respiratory failure
If you develop any complications of if your symptoms persist then you may need hospital treatment. It can take up to six weeks for your breathlessness and cough to start to improve, even in cases of mild pneumonia. It’s normal to still feel fatigued three months after your illness and it can take up to six months to recover fully.
Are you at risk of developing pneumonia?
There are certain groups of people who are more at risk of developing pneumonia. These groups include:
- Adults over the age of 65
- Smokers – in fact smoking is the biggest risk factor for pneumonia in younger adults
- Babies and young children
- Anybody with a weakened immune system
- Those with other health conditions such as asthma
- People who drink alcohol excessively
- Anybody who has recently had a cold or flu
Not only are these groups more at risk of developing pneumonia, but if they do get it then it can be more serious and hospitalisation may be required. In fact, pneumonia is the world’s leading cause of death for children under five, responsible for 15% of deaths amongst this age group. If you have developed pneumonia at work due to your employer’s negligence or whilst being treated in hospital for another illness or injury, Accident Advice Helpline could help you claim for pneumonia compensation. We could even help you claim if a loved one has contracted pneumonia and you want to make a claim on their behalf.
How much compensation could you get for pneumonia?
It’s impossible for Accident Advice Helpline to tell you exactly how much compensation you could be entitled to after developing pneumonia, as it will depend on your personal circumstances and the impact your illness has had on your life. We handle each and every claim individually, taking into account things like whether you have taken time off work and suffered loss of earnings into account. But for an idea of the amount you may be able to claim, you can take the 30-second test on our website today. Then it’s simply a case of calling us to check that you have a viable claim.
Next steps in your claim for pneumonia
We encourage anybody who has suffered from pneumonia as a result of negligence – or anybody claiming on behalf of anybody who has suffered – to get in touch with us as soon as possible. It’s true that there is a three-year time limit in place to make a claim for personal injury compensation, but the sooner you contact Accident Advice Helpline, the sooner we can help you. Just call our freephone helpline on 0800 689 0500 (or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile) to find out more about making a claim. We’ve been endorsed by our patron, UK consumer champion Dame Esther Rantzen, so you know you’re in good hands.