If you’ve become ill due to chemical exposure in the workplace, you’re almost always entitled to file a claim under your state’s workers’ compensation system. This is true whether your exposure has been caused by one significant incident such as an explosion or accidental spill, or has occurred over time.

While you could suffer chemical exposure in any job, workers in some industries are at much greater risk. This includes those who work in construction, manufacturing, mining, farming, and harvesting. If you believe you might be suffering due to chemical exposure in the workplace, follow our advice to pursue your workers’ compensation claim.

Common types of chemical exposure in the workplace

Chemicals can enter your body through:

  • Contact with the eyes or skin
  • Inhalation
  • Eating or drinking
  • Injection

Types of hazardous materials that you could be exposed to in your workplace include:

Ammonia Diacetyl Lead
Arsenic Ethylene oxide Mercury
Asbestos Formaldehyde Methylene chloride
Benzene Hydrochloric acid Silica
Beryllium Hydrogen peroxide Sulfuric acid
Cadmium Hydrogen Sulfide Uranium
Chloroform Iodine Zinc

Common symptoms of chemical exposure in the workplace

Certain symptoms of toxic exposure are easy to spot, especially following a significant incident. But since hazardous materials can cause internal damage or present following prolonged exposure, it’s important to know the common signs. Be on the lookout for:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Burns
  • Dermatitis
  • Illnesses such as leptospirosis or legionnaires
  • Internal organ damage
  • Irritated eyes
  • Lung or skin cancer
  • Migraines
  • Neurological problems
  • Respiratory irritation
  • Skin inflammation
  • Systemic toxicity

What to do if you’ve been exposed to hazardous material at work

If you believe you’re suffering from chemical exposure in the workplace, consult your doctor immediately. They’ll evaluate your condition and may even refer you to a specialist for a detailed diagnosis.

If your doctor determines that you have an illness or condition caused by hazardous chemicals, the next step is to contact your employer. They’ll provide the forms you need to start your workers’ compensation claim. Once you do, it’s your employer’s responsibility to submit your claim form and the supporting documentation to their insurance provider.

Be aware that you only have a limited time in which to report your injury to your employer. The precise amount of time differs from state to state. In Missouri, for example, you have 30 days to report your injury, whereas in Kansas you have only 28. In cases of prolonged exposure, however, it’s best to contact a local workers’ compensation lawyer for expert advice on filing.

Once your claim is in progress, you’ll also need to address the cause of your chemical exposure to prevent it from happening again. You should work together with your doctor and employer to create a plan for limiting your workplace exposure to hazardous material as much as possible.

Can I sue my employer for chemical exposure in the workplace?

Workers’ compensation isn’t a fault-based system. To make a claim, you simply need to have been exposed to hazardous materials at work and for that exposure to have caused an illness or injury. Even if your exposure was caused by your own actions, such as spilling toxic chemicals, you’re still entitled to workers’ compensation.

This also means that by law you’re unable to sue your employer for damages on account of chemical exposure in the workplace. This applies even if they’ve failed to follow safety requirements.

However, in certain circumstances, you might be able to file a third-party lawsuit. For example, if you’re a janitor who cleans at a location that doesn’t belong to your direct employer, it’s the client company’s responsibility to prevent chemical exposure. If their negligence leads to exposure, you would have grounds to sue that company for damages.

Types of workers’ compensation for chemical exposure

The benefits you’re entitled to depend on the state in which you live. For example, workers’ compensation benefits in Kansas are calculated differently than workers’ compensation in Missouri. But there are several types of benefits that you might be eligible to receive:

  • Lost wages benefits: Compensation for a loss of income during the time you’re unable to work, based on your typical wages.
  • Medical reimbursement: This covers the cost of diagnostic studies, medical treatments, medication, equipment, hospital visits, physical therapy, and more.
  • Temporary partial disability or temporary total disability benefits: For chemical exposures that cause partial or total disability, but which will fully heal in time.
  • Permanent partial disability or permanent total disability benefits: For chemical exposures that cause partial or total disability that affects your ability to participate in gainful employment.
  • Death benefits: If the chemical exposure results in the worker’s death, their spouse and dependents are entitled to financial support.

Put forward a strong chemical exposure claim with Phalen Law

No matter who’s responsible for your exposure to hazardous materials in the workplace, you’re entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim. But in many cases, employers and their insurance companies try to deny claims or offer settlements that are far less than you deserve. That’s where a trusted workers’ compensation firm like Phalen Law comes in.

Our experienced trial lawyers assess your case to determine the benefits you’re eligible for and advocate on your behalf to make sure you receive every penny. We also gather evidence to prove your claim and make every effort to win your case without ever setting foot in the courtroom. With our support, you can avoid the major stresses of a workers’ compensation claim and, in most cases, enjoy a quick and lucrative payout.

Call us today for a free no-obligation consultation or fill out our Free Case Evaluation form to give us the details of your case.

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William L. Phalen

For 30 years, Bill Phalen has been representing families and workers whose lives have been devastated by workplace injuries, reckless drivers and the negligence of others. When tragedy needlessly strikes – because of the irresponsible behavior of an employer, corporation or an insurance company – Bill Phalen is an advocate for the people, always representing David in the fight against Goliath. Bill’s strong convictions have led to successful cases at the Court of Appeals and Kansas Supreme Court.

21:34 06 Aug 23
It has been a long road of recovery, very thankful for all they have done on my behalf, Bill and Melissa thank you for having my back and helping me get through everthing i have gone through in the last few years.
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13:21 28 Mar 23
Very nice employees. William is an awesome attorney if it had an option for 10 stars I would give him 10. I highly recommend him to anyone in search of a great attorney
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05:32 25 May 21
I highly recommend Mr Phalen. He and his staff did a great job! I could not have won my case without them.
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14:42 18 Dec 20
I was hurt at work and Mr Phalen took my case on and worked on it for over a year and was able to successfully get me a settlement check for my injuries. Hire him if you’re ever injured on the job!
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21:06 01 Jul 19
If you need an excellent attorney around the Pittsburg area Bill Phalen is the guy to go to. Very knowledgeable and pleasant and the office staff is great. I wouldn't go to anyone else!
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16:14 01 Apr 19
I've worked here as a student intern since August, 2018 and I must say that this has been the most enjoyable job I've had to date. Mr. Phalen and the gals working here are a pleasure to be around and work with. They are patient with me every time I'm slow to get the hang of a new task, they are relaxed and easy going but know how to get the job done well. They each put extra effort into all of the work they do for each and every client. Several times they have come in early or stayed at the office late to make sure that they got every done that they needed to prepare someone's case.The people in this office have been a part of this community for a lifetime and working with them has helped me feel as if I was a part of this great community as well.
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16:52 27 Mar 19
Very Proud to call him my Attorney, very friendly staff, that always keeps me updated on my case and one phone call away to answer any questions. I have been using him for many, many years. I can't Thank him enough for what he has done and still doing for me and my family. But Thank you. Would highly recommend William Phalen.