Occupational Exposure Attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
You hear a lot about workplace injuries. Falls, strains, cuts, fractures, and repetitive-use injuries, such as carpal tunnel, are common. You may not hear about injuries resulting from occupational exposures to substances such as toxins, exhaust, chemical fumes, metals, noise, dust, fungus, fibers, infection, and debris.
By nature, many of these workplace injuries occur slowly over time. Symptoms may not be apparent for years, and there can be little warning that occupational exposure now presents a threat to your health and in many cases, your life.
If you have suffered a workplace injury due to occupational exposure to dangerous substances, it is no different than falling from a scaffold or injuring your back while lifting. You may qualify to file a workers’ compensation claim.
To find out, do what hundreds of workers injured on the job have done in Philadelphia and throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Scranton and Harrisburg. Contact our team at H. Rosen Law, P.C., for reliable legal assistance, and let’s talk about your case.
What Are Examples of Common Occupational Exposure Injuries?
Black lung disease among coal miners, asbestos poisoning among construction workers, and silo filler’s disease developed by farmers inhaling fermenting grain fumes are a few occupational exposure injuries you might have heard of.
Aerospace and airplane manufacturing, food production and flavoring, cotton, flax, hemp, and nylon processing are other high-risk industries for exposure to disease- and injury-causing substances.
Inhalation of diesel and gas fumes and repeated exposure to loud noise can cause injury as well. An office worker breathing in mold from structures and heating and cooling systems can have an occupational exposure workers’ compensation claim. In the healthcare setting, exposure to the blood of infected patients is a common work-related injury.
What Ways Can I Be Exposed on the Job?
Toxins and poisons can enter the body in three primary ways.
Inhalation is the most common route into the body. Breathing in toxins and contaminants from gas, fumes, droplets, smoke, and dust through the nose or mouth sends them into the lungs, where they are processed the same way oxygen is. Once oxygen reaches the thousands of tiny sacs called “alveoli” in the lungs, it passes through the walls and enters the bloodstream, where it is transported throughout the body. When you breathe in contaminants, the same process occurs. Once in your bloodstream, the damage begins.
Ingestion, or the eating, drinking, and swallowing of contaminants, is another way toxins enter the body. In this case, they are carried down the esophagus and into the stomach, where they enter the bloodstream. If the food you eat, water or other beverages you drink, or anything you put into your mouth, such as cigarettes, pencils, or other tools have been exposed to contaminants, they will be introduced into your bloodstream.
Skin contact is the third way you can be exposed to dangerous substances. Solvents, mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls, commonly known as “PCBs,” can be absorbed through the skin. Solvents, for example, are neurotoxins that can cause irreparable damage to the liver, kidneys, and nervous system. Toxic exposure in the workplace is common among those who work in industries where they are used regularly.
Skin contact also includes injections and cuts that allow toxins to enter the bloodstream. Healthcare settings pose particularly dangerous risks of workplace injury. Needles, scalpels, and other sharp instruments exposed to infected patient blood in turn expose healthcare workers to potential disease and death.
What’s Involved in Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Program is designed to provide benefits to workers for injuries and diseases suffered as a result of the workplace, including exposure injury. There is no need to prove your employer was negligent in a workers’ compensation claim. You need only prove the cause of your injury or disease in the workplace during the term of your employment.
Reporting your injury to your employer is the first step in filing a workers’ compensation claim. With occupational exposure injuries, this is more difficult than, for example, reporting a slip and fall injury. In many cases, you won’t know about an exposure injury until your doctor has diagnosed the resulting disease or condition.
This fact may also give your employer and its insurance company an excuse to deny your claim or to challenge the timely filing of your claim. Workers’ compensation claims must be filed within three years of the injury. In the event of most occupational exposure injuries, that would be three years from the date of diagnosis.
You can expect that your employer and its insurer will want a diagnosis from their own approved physician if yours was rendered by your physician. It will likely be their doctor who rates your percentage of disability, which drives how much compensation you receive. Unfortunately, because employer physicians are incentivized by insurance companies to provide the least costly care for the shortest period of time, you may find you aren’t receiving the treatment you need. Occupational exposure injuries are typically severe, incurable, and lifelong battles.
Among the benefits, you may receive from filing a workers’ compensation claim are payment of medical expenses you have incurred as well as future medical, depending on the structure of your settlement. You can also receive wage benefits for permanent total disability or permanent partial disability if your condition prohibits you from working completely or in a role that does not pay what your position paid you before your diagnosis. Payments for lost wages are generally around two-thirds of your previous average weekly wage. However, the employer’s insurer can use offsets, such as Social Security or pensions to reduce the sum the insurer pays.
Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Program is designed for employees to navigate on their own. While that may be all a worker with a minor injury may need, employees with more serious and complicated injuries benefit from having the representation of an experienced Philadelphia workers' compensation lawyer.
Occupational Exposure Attorney Serving Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
As workers’ compensation attorneys, we have handled many cases resulting from occupational exposure. These cases are challenging, but they are a challenge we welcome. Your employer and its insurer are concerned about money. We are concerned about you and your future. If you have been injured or diagnosed with a disease or health issue related to exposure to toxins, chemicals, or contaminants in the workplace, don’t delay. Contact H. Rosen Law, P.C., in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, today.