Liability for Workplace Toxic Exposure
The construction industry is known for being one of the most dangerous for its employees. Whenever there’s a possibility of being exposed to hazardous toxins, your employer must have necessary safety protections in place.
Those that do not take these precautions can be held accountable when you suffer injuries caused by toxic exposure in the workplace.
What is Toxic Exposure?
When you work in a factory, industrial site, construction site, or a new building, there can be many toxic gasses, fumes, and chemicals. These toxic substances are often required on construction sites but also require safety precautions.
When these toxins are inhaled, or a victim is otherwise exposed to them, they can result in severe respiratory illness and other debilitating medical conditions.
How Does Someone Become Exposed?
Exposure to toxic substances can happen in a variety of ways. However, these generally occur through:
- Ingestion: when someone accidentally consumes toxic chemicals
- Inhalation: when someone is exposed to toxic substances that can enter the body through the respiratory system or lungs
- Through the skin: when toxins are absorbed through the dermal layers of the skin
What Kind of Toxins Exist at Worksites?
Seemingly endless toxic substances could exist on new building sites, factory sites, construction sites, and other worksites. Examples include:
- Fumes – Fumes are produced when solids are vaporized and molecules are condensed within the air. Fumes are most often released during extrusion molding, welding, or smelting.
- Toxic mold – Buildings that have been damaged by water may develop toxic or black mold. Black mold has been known to cause severe medical issues, including obstructive lung disease and certain types of cancers.
- Asbestos – Asbestos is commonly found in older homes and buildings where construction typically involved using asbestos. The chemical makeup of asbestos can cause scar tissue to develop in the lungs, which can ultimately lead to respiratory issues, lung cancer, and even mesothelioma.
- Metal poisoning – When mercury, lead, manganese, or other metals enter the human body, they can cause debilitating health issues, including internal bleeding, organ damage, seizures, and heart trouble.
- Contaminated water – When household chemicals are not properly disposed of, septic systems are leaking, or there is agricultural runoff, the water on work sites can become contaminated. Depending on the types of chemicals you were exposed to, you could subsequently develop a variety of health ailments, such as certain types of cancers, respiratory issues, and more.
- Pesticides – If exposed to pesticides, you could experience skin irritation, certain types of respiratory infections, severe fatigue, extreme muscle weakness, and other symptoms associated with pesticide exposure.
Toxic Exposure Illnesses
There are a variety of medical conditions and health issues that you could be diagnosed with following exposure to toxic substances and chemicals. Some of the more common types of diseases and medical conditions workers have been diagnosed with include:
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Lung cancer
- Parkinson’s disease
- Other types of cancers
- Respiratory conditions
Who Can Be Held Liable for Exposure?
Determining who is responsible for causing your medical condition will be most important if you hope to recover the compensation you deserve. A variety of parties could be held liable for your exposure to toxic substances. Still, the most likely party is the individual or organization aware of the toxic chemicals, knowing you were at risk of exposure and jeopardizing your safety.
Property owners should ensure that their property or premises are safe for their invited guests and patrons. This includes workers who may be performing construction work, factory work, or any other type of job on the property.
Property owners could be held liable for your exposure to toxic substances if they failed to warn their team of certain types of chemicals, such as asbestos in older homes or buildings.
General contractors are responsible for most of the work done on-site. Contractors who fail to provide their construction workers, subcontractors, or other employees with the necessary safety gear or equipment could be held accountable when you become ill due to exposure to toxic substances.
General contractors typically hire subcontractors. However, subcontractors should still adhere to certain safety precautions.
If subcontractors fail to follow the safety protocols, use necessary safety equipment, or otherwise violate worksite rules and regulations, they could be responsible for compensating you if you are ultimately exposed to toxic chemicals due to the subcontractor’s negligent actions.
Although independent contractors are not employees hired by contractors or subcontractors, they perform work on behalf of the contractor. You may be able to file a claim against an independent contractor or the contractor who hired the independent contractor when their negligent actions are the cause of your toxic chemical exposure.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim for Toxic Exposure
You may be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits when exposed to toxic substances on a worksite. However, these worker’s compensation benefits will only cover your medical expenses, a portion of your lost income, and in some cases, vocational rehabilitation.
You have the right to compensation for every loss. Your attorney will need to show that the defendant in your case was negligent in some way and is ultimately responsible for your exposure to toxic substances. You can pursue a personal injury lawsuit if you hope to get the most out of your case. You must file your claim before the two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims expires. Your lawyer can guide you through the process.
We will investigate all potentially liable parties, gather the evidence needed to prove fault, quantify your damages, negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, and be prepared to bring your toxic substances claim to trial, should it be in your best interests to do so. While healing from your injuries, your construction accident lawyer will be by your side to handle all the legal matters involved in pursuing the compensation you deserve.
For Toxic Exposure Cases, Call Atlee Hall
Construction accidents involving exposure to toxic chemicals are often complex due to the circumstances of these cases and the potential at-fault parties. Our team of construction accident lawyers at Atlee Hall have experience in helping injured workers recover the compensation and justice they deserve.