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Silicosis in California: A Silent Threat to Construction Workers (2024)

Silicosis is a complex and terminal medical condition that results from repeated exposure to silica dust in the air. While it is most commonly diagnosed among workers in the engineered stone product manufacturing industry, it is also common among construction workers. However, silicosis is a silent threat to construction workers as more common injuries are often foremost in workers’ minds when it comes to the risks they face at work.

An experienced silicosis attorney in Los Angeles, CA, can provide the comprehensive legal counsel you need if you have been diagnosed with this condition and need help recovering benefits through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy. Canlas Law Group has extensive experience with difficult workers’ compensation claims, and we are ready to help you navigate the claim filing process.

Silicosis in California: A Silent Threat to Construction Workers

Understanding Silicosis

Similar to mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, silicosis is a medical condition that develops slowly over time and, in many cases, does not display noticeable symptoms until the disease has progressed to a dangerous level. Symptoms can begin with persistent coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pains, and eventually, these can progress to include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and more.

Silica dust particles are very small and light and can be inhaled and absorbed into the tissues of the respiratory system. Over time, these particles accumulate and create microscopic tears in lung tissue, causing scar tissue to form. This scar tissue prevents the lungs from expanding properly, inhibiting the victim’s breathing and ultimately causing a host of debilitating and painful symptoms.

Silicosis is incurable, and it is often responsible for fatal lung cancer and other terminal conditions forming. It is possible to manage the condition with ongoing medical care, but the victim will be unable to continue working in their current job and may require constant in-home treatment and supervision. Ultimately, silicosis can take a tremendous toll on the victim and their family.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim for an Illness

When most people think of workers’ compensation claims, they imagine acute physical injuries, but it is possible to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits in response to an illness you have developed from work. If you believe your recent silicosis diagnosis is directly related to your job, you have the right to pursue workers’ compensation benefits.

You must notify your employer as soon as you have been diagnosed with any job-related illness, and they are legally required to provide you with the materials you need to file your workers’ compensation claim. An experienced attorney can help you file the claim; they can also help resolve any unexpected problems you encounter with your employer and/or their insurance carrier.

While workers’ compensation insurance typically shields covered employers from civil suits from their injured workers, it is possible to have grounds for a civil suit that may help you recover compensation for damages that workers’ compensation won’t cover. For example, if your employer violated regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) pertaining to silica dust, it could open the door for further legal recourse.

A successful workers’ compensation claim can yield compensation for all the medical expenses related to your condition, and you may claim compensation for lost income and lost earning capacity. Silicosis is only manageable with appropriate treatment; the damage done to the lungs by silica dust is incurable. Your attorney can be an invaluable asset in helping you maximize the benefits you obtain from your workers’ compensation claim.

FAQs About Silicosis in California: A Silent Threat to Construction Workers

Who Is Most at Risk for Silicosis?

It’s possible for anyone who is exposed to silica dust at work to eventually develop silicosis. Construction workers are often exposed to materials that may shed silica dust, but the most at-risk workers are those who work in the engineered stone countertop industry. When these stones are ground, shaped, and polished, they release silica dust into the air that can be inhaled and embedded in the respiratory system.

What Are the New OSHA Regulations for Silica Dust?

OSHA recently implemented new safety requirements for employers who work in operations that pose silica dust hazards. Under these new regulations, most of the devices used to cut and shape engineered stone that can release silica dust must have water delivery systems installed, which feed water onto the blades of these devices to catch silica dust and prevent it from becoming airborne.

Will I Get Silicosis From One Exposure?

Silicosis is a cumulative condition that does not develop from a single exposure. In most cases, victims were exposed for more than ten years on a regular basis before the condition developed, although it is possible to develop silicosis in as little as five years of consistent exposure. Taking steps to prevent the respiration of silica dust particles can significantly reduce your risk of developing this condition.

How Much Can I Claim in Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

The total value of any workers’ compensation claim filed in California typically includes medical expense coverage and income replacement benefits for the time the victim will be unable to work because of their injury or illness. If you have an incurable illness that prevents you from working, you may qualify for permanent disability benefits. An experienced attorney can estimate the total benefits you may secure if you succeed with your claim.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Los Angeles Silicosis Attorney?

Canlas Law Group can provide legal representation for your silicosis claim in Los Angeles on a contingency fee basis, meaning you only pay a percentage of your final case award as our fee if and when we win your case. There is no fee if our firm is unable to secure compensation for you, so there is no risk to you in choosing our firm to represent your case.

Silicosis is a complex, debilitating, and ultimately fatal condition and it is natural to have lots of pressing legal questions if you were recently diagnosed with the disease through your work. Canlas Law Group is ready to provide the comprehensive legal representation you need in this situation. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our team and learn more about how we can assist you.

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