Many people are exposed to dangerous chemicals every day at work, sometimes without even knowing it. From medical researchers to auto mechanics, the dangers workers face span a variety of different industries. When accidents happen at work, deadly fumes and fluids may be released and inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin. Not only can these accidents cause major catastrophic injuries such as chemical burns or damage to the lungs, but they can be fatal as well.
If you or a loved one were exposed to hazardous chemicals at work, you may be entitled to financial compensation through a Maryland workers’ comp claim. In this blog, we discuss some of the most common chemical exposures, injuries, and causes of these accidents, as well as your options for pursuing a workers’ compensation claim.
Dangerous Chemical Exposure
Certain industries pose a greater risk of dangerous chemical exposure for workers. Some jobs that pose the highest risk of exposure include:
- Construction workers
- Farmers and agricultural workers
- Industrial workers
- Manufacturing workers
- Nurses, researchers, and other medical or healthcare workers
- Oil and gas workers
- Railroad workers
- Transportation workers
Using welders as an example, these workers may be exposed to dangerous chemicals such as lead, beryllium, and arsenic as fumes are released. All of these chemicals have been proven to be harmful to humans. Even natural substances like cotton or hemp can cause health problems if there is no proper ventilation in the work area. Other harmful chemicals workers within these industries may be exposed to include:
- Carbon monoxide
- Diesel fumes
- Hydrochloric acid
- Nylon fibers (“flock”)
- Sulfuric acid
- Wood dust
Common Injuries from Exposure to Dangerous Chemicals
The severity of a chemical injury depends on factors like the substance involved, its strength or concentration, the duration of exposure, and how quickly the victim receives treatment. Exposure to beryllium or ammonia can cause death or serious injury with potentially disabling effects. Chemical exposure in the workplace can lead to health problems such as:
- Chemical burns, which can leave extensive permanent scars behind
- Chronic chest pain, coughing, or breathing problems
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Damage to the lungs or trachea (windpipe)
- Dermatitis or other skin conditions
- Eye injuries and loss of vision
- Loss of limbs
- Nerve damage
- Neurological damage
- Occupational asthma (byssinosis, brown lung disease)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Popcorn lung (bronchiolitis obliterans)
- Silo-filler’s disease (nitrogen dioxide poisoning)
Compensation After Exposure to Dangerous Chemicals
There are two ways in which you may be able to receive compensation after an injury due to exposure to dangerous chemicals at work. The first is through workers’ compensation benefits. Almost all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance that allows employees who have been injured at work to receive compensation while they recover from their injuries and are unable to work. Keep in mind when you file for workers’ compensation, you forfeit your ability to sue your employer.
However, you may still be able to sue a third party for damages in addition to filing for workers’ compensation. If another person or entity acted negligently and caused an accident to happen which resulted in your injury, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Contact an Attorney Right Away
Overcoming the hurdles that workers’ compensation cases present can quickly become complicated. There are many factors to consider when you have been exposed to dangerous chemicals at work. Let us worry about your legal case while you recover from your injuries.
Don’t try to navigate these situations alone, here at Zirkin and Schmerling our Maryland workers compensation lawyers prioritize our clients and make sure they understand the steps in the legal process. We pride ourselves on working closely with our clients to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve in workers’ compensation cases.
Contact us or call us at (410) 753-4611 to set up an appointment with one of our experienced accident lawyers today.