Some workplaces require employees to work with dangerous chemicals, which may have adverse effects on the individual when exposed to them. Victims of chemical exposure may be faced with the question of what to do to receive justice and compensation for their injuries.
“The length of time within which one can initiate a claim for chemical exposure greatly depends on the statute of limitation that is applicable in the state,” says personal injury attorney Jason Schneider of Schneider Hammers. People can be exposed to dangerous chemicals both inside and outside the workplace.
The place where the exposure occurred and the peculiarity of the situation will help determine who can be held liable for the unfortunate incident. If you have been exposed to a dangerous chemical, you may need to speak with a lawyer who would counsel you on the best line of action to take.
Chemical Exposure Injuries
There are various lines of work that would expose employees to dangerous chemicals. Many chemical exposure cases happen in factories where these hazardous toxins are manufactured or used in production. However, exposure can also occur in offices where hazardous chemicals are used as cleaning agents.
There are specific rules in regards to handling the use of dangerous chemicals. When these rules are adhered to, exposure is greatly minimized. However, many cases occur when individuals handling these chemicals are negligent, thereby increasing the risk of exposure.
Safety protocols are put into place in organizations to safeguard against exposure to toxic chemicals including the use of safety equipment. These include gloves, helmets, goggles, exhaust fans, hazmat suits, and more. Where these dangerous chemicals are used, employers must ensure that their workers follow protocol to handle chemicals safely, including using safety equipment. Where employers fail to provide the required safety gear, they will be held liable for injuries that may result from exposure.
How do People Get Exposed to Dangerous Chemicals
Chemical exposure can occur when people come in contact with any of the following substances:
- Chlorine gas
- Acids and heavy metals
Exposure to dangerous chemicals can occur in different ways, and the effects can manifest even years after exposure. Chemical exposure can happen in four significant ways, namely:
- Through inhalation of the chemical substance
- Ingesting the toxin which may be contained in the victim’s food or drink
- Direct contact with the victim’s skin. This can result from a chemical spill
- The injection can occur if a sharp object that has been contaminated pierces the skin
Injuries from Chemical Exposure
Victims of chemical exposure can suffer injuries, including rashes, nerve injuries, burns, lung injuries, and throat injuries. Victims of chemical exposure can also suffer from severe neurological conditions such as brain damage, and in adverse cases, victims may die in the process.
Chemical exposure can result in permanent impairment of the victim, resulting in the individual not being able to work becoming dependent on others.
Workers’ Compensation Coverage
If a worker suffers from chemical exposure while in their workplace, they can file a workers’ compensation claim. However, it is crucial to understand how the workers’ compensation claim works before doing so. Most employees who are injured while carrying out work-related activities qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
The workers’ compensation claim does not consider who is at fault but pays out benefits to the injured worker once it has been established that the said injury occurred while carrying out a work-related responsibility. Workers’ compensation claims are different from personal injury claims, and the difference is in proof of liability.
Injured victims who want to file a personal injury claim must prove liability before compensation can be paid. However, when chemical exposure occurs in a workplace, the victim does not need to prove that the employer or co-worker was negligent before claiming benefits.
When Do You File a Personal Injury Claim for Chemical Exposure?
An employee who gets injured in the cause of their work may not be able to file a personal injury claim against their employee. They are only entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
However, chemical exposure can be due to the negligence of a third-party other than the employer. In that case, the employee can file a personal injury lawsuit for compensation. These types of lawsuits are known as third-party claims.
Before the injured can be awarded the compensation amount in a personal injury lawsuit, they must be able to prove that the injuries sustained due to the exposure resulted from the third party’s negligence. It is not in all chemical exposure cases that the injured can file a personal injury lawsuit; instead, it is only in cases where the exposure resulted from the negligence of another party other than the employer.
What to Do to Ensure a Workers’ Compensation Claim is Successful
Although a worker exposed to dangerous chemicals can file a claim, not every claim is successful. To ensure that the claim is accepted, the victim needs to report such an incident to their supervisors immediately after it happens, explaining in detail how the exposure occurred.
Additionally, they should get the testimony of any eyewitness while making an effort to seek medical attention immediately. Once you can see medical personnel, it is ideal to let them know that you have been exposed to a dangerous chemical, as this would help determine the type of treatment they will provide you.
Statute of Limitation
The statute of limitation for chemical exposure in most states is 1 to 2 years, and the victim is required to file a claim within this time period. However, the application of the discovery rule can extend the timing.
The effects of chemical exposure on the victim can manifest years after the exposure. The discovery rule allows the victim to file a claim when they discover that they have been exposed.
Individuals who have suffered from chemical exposure can file a claim and receive compensation for sustained injuries. Determining liability, especially for third-party claims, is tricky. It is, therefore, ideal for victims to hire the services of a competent attorney to help them get their due compensation.