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:

ArsenicEthylene oxideMercury
AsbestosFormaldehydeMethylene chloride
BenzeneHydrochloric acidSilica
BerylliumHydrogen peroxideSulfuric acid
CadmiumHydrogen SulfideUranium

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.