Toxic Exposure in the Workplace
Our attorneys can fight for full compensation for your illness
Every year, millions of American workers are potentially exposed to toxic chemicals. Working with hazardous substances is an unavoidable part of some jobs, and the consequences can range from mild irritation to serious diseases like cancer.
California’s workers’ compensation system provides benefits for all workers who are hurt on the job, including those hurt by toxic chemicals in the workplace. However, workers’ compensation claims for toxic exposure can be quite complex, with plenty of room for the insurance company to downplay your losses. That’s why you need the attorneys at McLaughlin & Sanchez on your side.
Types of toxins that can be found in the workplace
People who work in construction, manufacturing, mining and similar industries are particularly vulnerable to toxic exposure. Some of the toxins workers may encounter include:
- Heavy metals, such as mercury, cadmium, chromium, thallium, and lead.
- Silica, a mineral found in sand and quartz that can lead to a serious lung disease called silicosis when inhaled.
- Vehicle exhaust, particularly for transportation workers and mechanics who work on vehicles.
- Toluene, a liquid chemical used in paint thinners, glues, stain removers, inks, and explosives.
- Benzene, a chemical found in oil and gas, used to make plastics, detergents and other chemicals, and produced by forest fires.
- Pesticides, which may be encountered by agricultural workers or industrial workers who handle agricultural products.
- Arsenic, a highly toxic chemical encountered in wood preservatives, glass production, electronics and some agricultural products.
- Electronic waste or e-waste, a collection of harmful chemicals found in appliances like televisions, refrigerators and microwaves.
Toxic exposure is most common in settings that work with toxic chemicals, like machine shops, dry cleaners, automotive repair, construction and metalwork, but certainly not limited to those settings. Even office workers might be exposed to chemicals like commercial cleaners or solvents.
How workers’ compensation claims for toxic exposure work
Like any other work-related injury or illness, you should notify your employer as soon as you become aware that you have an illness caused by toxic exposure at work. You also need to get appropriate medical attention, both to protect your health and document your illness.
The key is to prove a causal relationship between your illness and chemicals or environmental conditions in your workplace, and this can be a difficult legal bar to clear. Sometimes, it takes years for exposure to develop into a diagnosable health condition. You may not even still be at the same job by the time you get sick. This creates room for the employer and the insurance company to argue that your illness is not work-related and thus not compensable.
That’s why you need to contact a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. We have extensive experience handling claims involving toxic exposure, and we know how to document your exposure and demonstrate that your illness is covered by workers’ compensation. We will also thoroughly investigate any other legal options you may have, such as a third-party claim against a manufacturer of toxic products or other responsible party.
The key is to act quickly. The deadlines for claims involving toxic exposure are complex, and the evidence we need to gather can become more difficult to acquire over time. Don’t go up against the workers’ compensation insurance company alone. Contact McLaughlin & Sanchez for a free consultation with an experienced San Diego workers’ compensation lawyer.