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Can I Recover Compensation if I was Exposed to Toxic Chemicals at Work?

September 19, 2023 Legal Team

In many cases, if you suffered harm as a result of being exposed to toxic chemicals at work, you may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim. This system is designed to provide benefits to employees who are injured or become ill due to workplace conditions.

Can I Recover Compensation if I was Exposed to Toxic Chemicals at Work?

Workers’ Compensation for Toxic Chemical Exposure

California has a comprehensive workers’ compensation system in place to provide benefits to employees who are injured or become ill due to workplace conditions, including exposure to toxic chemicals.

Types of Benefits

Workers’ compensation benefits typically include:

  • Medical Treatment: Coverage for necessary medical treatment related to the toxic chemical exposure.
  • Temporary Disability Benefits: If you’re unable to work while recovering, you may receive temporary disability benefits, which typically amount to two-thirds of your average weekly wages.
  • Permanent Disability Benefits: If the exposure results in a permanent disability or impairment, you may be eligible for ongoing benefits. The amount awarded will depend on the severity of your injury.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation: If you cannot return to your previous job, you may receive assistance in finding and training for a new job.

Third Party Claims

You may be able to also file a third-party claim in addition to workers’ compensation if someone other than your employer or a co-worker was responsible for your injury or illness.

Examples of Third Parties

  • Manufacturers or Distributors: If a defective chemical product played a role in your exposure, you may have grounds for a product liability claim against the manufacturer or distributor.
  • Contractors or Subcontractors: If you were exposed to toxic chemicals due to the negligence of a contractor or subcontractor on a construction site, they may be liable.
  • Property Owners: In cases where you were exposed to toxic substances due to unsafe conditions on the property, the owner of the property may be held liable.

A successful third-party claim can lead to additional compensation beyond what you might receive through workers’ compensation. This can include lost wages that workers’ comp does not cover, damages for pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and other non-economic losses.

Types of Jobs at Risk of Toxic Chemical Exposure

Here are some occupations that commonly put workers at risk of toxic chemical exposure:

  • Chemical Manufacturing and Processing
  • Industrial Cleaning and Janitorial Services
  • Agricultural Workers
  • Construction and Demolition
  • Healthcare Professionals
  • Laboratory Technicians and Researchers
  • Painters and Coating Applicators
  • Auto Mechanics
  • Waste Management and Recycling Workers
  • Plumbers and Pipefitters
  • Electronics Manufacturing and Repair
  • Firefighters and First Responders
  • Mining and Extraction Industries
  • Transportation and Trucking

Employers in these industries are typically required to provide proper training, safety equipment, and measures to minimize exposure to toxic chemicals. However, even with precautions, accidents and exposures can still occur.

Common Toxic Chemical Injuries

Here are some common injuries that can result from exposure to toxic chemicals:

  • Chemical Burns: Contact with corrosive chemicals can cause burns to the skin or eyes. This can range from mild irritation to severe burns requiring immediate medical attention.
  • Respiratory Issues: Inhalation of toxic fumes or particles can lead to respiratory problems, such as coughing, shortness of breath, asthma, or even more serious conditions like lung damage or respiratory failure.
  • Eye Irritation and Damage: Chemical splashes or fumes can cause eye irritation, redness, or more severe injuries like corneal damage or vision impairment.
  • Neurological Effects: Some toxic chemicals, particularly those affecting the nervous system, can lead to symptoms like dizziness, headaches, confusion, or even more severe neurological damage.
  • Reproductive Health Issues: Certain chemicals can pose risks to reproductive health, potentially leading to issues with fertility, congenital disabilities, or developmental problems in children.
  • Organ Damage: Prolonged exposure to certain toxic chemicals can lead to damage to internal organs, including the liver, kidneys, and nervous system.
  • Cancer: Exposure to carcinogenic chemicals over an extended period can increase the risk of developing various types of cancer.
  • Hematological Disorders: Some toxic chemicals can affect the blood and lead to anemia or blood clotting abnormalities and other disorders.
  • Systemic Toxicity: Ingestion or absorption of certain chemicals can lead to systemic poisoning, affecting multiple organs and systems in the body.
  • Psychological Effects: Exposure to certain chemicals can lead to mood changes, cognitive impairment, or other psychological effects.

If you suspect you’ve been exposed to toxic chemicals at work and are experiencing any related health issues, seek medical attention and speak to an Orange County workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. They can help you recover the compensation you deserve while you focus on your recovery.