Toxic chemicals in the workplace can lead to all kinds of injuries and medical illnesses, even death. Employers have a responsibility to adhere to federal agency regulations to protect workers from exposure to these hazardous substances. In certain industries, such as construction, transportation or manufacturing, the risk of being exposed to certain toxins is greater. However, it is possible for a toxic chemical injury to happen in any work environment.
When an employee is injured or exposed to a toxic chemical at work, either unknowingly or due to an accident, who pays for damages? Is it covered by workers’ compensation or would you be eligible to file a personal injury claim to recover your damages?
Often, getting the compensation you need after being exposed to a hazardous chemical at work is complicated. Employers may argue that your injuries could have happened elsewhere.
At Greg Coleman Law, we have extensive experience handling workers' compensation claims and understand the regulations that may apply to your situation. We are prepared to guide you throughout the claim process and help you avoid mistakes that can cause your claim to be denied.
Call today for a free and confidential case review - there is no obligation to pursue a claim.
Who Pays for My Toxic Chemical Injury?
In most cases, if the accident is work-related, you will likely be eligible to file a Tennessee workers’ compensation claim. This legal approach will provide you with partial replacement of your lost wages while you recover. Workers’ comp benefits will also pay for all associated medical costs.
However, your workers’ comp benefits do not begin until the eighth day after you have missed work. Additionally, unlike a personal injury lawsuit, workers’ compensation does not cover any amount of pain and suffering damages, such as:
- Physical pain caused by a toxic chemical injury
- Emotional anguish
- Mental distress
- Loss of companionship
- Scarring or disfigurement - such as caused by a chemical burn
- The inability to enjoy favorite pastimes
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Can I Sue My Employer?
While your employer is required to adhere to state and federal safety regulations, including those implemented under Occupational Health and Safety Association (OSHA) and the EPA, he or she is protected from being sued for most work-related injuries. Rarely, you may be able to pursue a liability claim - such as if an employer intentionally created a chemical hazard that caused you harm.
Fortunately, in a workers' comp claim, there is no need to determine whose actions may have caused the incident that got you hurt. Those injured on the job are not required to prove negligence in order to receive benefits – even if they may have been partially to blame for what happened. Workers’ compensation helps employees quickly receive the benefits they need following an injury. However, you must be able to show that the injury was job-related.
If a third party, such as a manufacturer, somehow contributed to you sustaining a toxic chemical injury at work, you may be able to pursue a liability claim against that party. In some cases, a worker may be able to pursue both a workers' compensation claim and a third-party liability lawsuit. This is something you should discuss with a licensed attorney.
What Should I Know About Toxic Chemical Injuries?
Proving an injury was caused by a hazardous chemical in the workplace may sometimes be difficult, because not all injuries caused by toxins show up immediately. In some cases, it can even take years. Understanding the types of toxic chemicals that you could possibly be exposed to at work can help determine what legal actions you may have for seeking compensation for your damages.
Types of Toxic Exposure at Work
While not an all-inclusive list of injuries caused by toxins in a work environment, these are some very common chemical injuries we see:
- Heavy metals, such as mercury, lead and cadmium
- Chlorine gas
Many toxic substances cannot be seen, but may cause immediate injury or lead to a serious medical condition, like mesothelioma - which often takes years to develop. Hazardous chemical injuries at work can occur through:
- Inhalation of a chemical, such as chlorine gas, carbon monoxide or asbestos fibers
- Direct skin contact of a toxic substance - like a chemical spill
- Ingestion of a toxin through food or drink
- Injection - though very rare, this can happen if a sharp object penetrates your skin
Injuries Caused by Toxins
Employees can suffer injuries caused by chemicals and other toxins at work that result in mild to serious injuries, such as skin rashes, burns to the throat or lungs, nerve system damage - even wrongful death. Other medical conditions, including mesothelioma, leukemia and other serious illnesses may develop as much as 10 or more years after the exposure occurred.
Your Employer’s Role
At work, your employer is required to notify workers about potential hazards, including the likelihood of exposure to toxic chemicals. In addition to keeping employees informed, your employer should also provide training and supply any necessary safety equipment your job may require – such as face shields, aprons or respirators.
Need Legal Help After a Toxic Chemical Injury? Call Our Firm Today
At Greg Coleman Law, we are well-versed in important state and federal laws that may apply to a legal claim following a toxic chemical injury.
These types of claims can become complicated, and because of this, injured victims may not realize all of their legal options for obtaining compensation - even if you did not immediately discover your injury or medical condition. While not all toxic chemical injuries are job-related, our experienced workers' compensation lawyers in Knoxville know the law. We are prepared to review the details of your situation and help determine what legal options you may have for recovering compensation.
Free Case Review. No Upfront Costs. (865) 247-0080