Employees deserve a safe workplace. When workers are injured or develop illnesses due to dangers on the job, this could be a key time to contact a Los Angeles silicosis lawyer. Workers are entitled to compensation for medical costs, rehabilitative care, and a portion of lost wages.
Many worksites have dangerous levels of dust or debris that employees may inhale, which can cause significant lung damage and respiratory diseases. Employers should provide adequate ventilation and personal protective gear to limit harm done to employees. Unfortunately, not all employers follow these safety requirements.
If you are an employee who has been exposed to silica dust, you may develop an illness called silicosis. Inhaling silica can cause incurable damage and even death. A Los Angeles silicosis attorney can help you determine if you have an occupational disease and how you can obtain compensation for your illness.
The Canlas Law Group has worked for many years to uphold employee rights in California. We understand how overwhelming the workers’ compensation system can feel. Workers’ compensation insurance providers have an interest in avoiding providing you the compensation you deserve and may delay, diminish, or deny good faith workers’ compensation claims of employees who are financially struggling.
Our attorneys help level the playing field against these insurance providers. We negotiate your claim on your behalf, using our many years of negotiating experience to your benefit. Our firm has the resources to investigate your case and prove the cause and severity of your developmental illness.
Silicosis is an inflammatory lung disease caused when silica dust is inhaled. Over time, these silica particles become embedded in a person’s lung tissue, which causes scar tissue to build up, become irritated, and limits the lung’s ability to breathe properly. The damage to internal tissue is permanent and incurable. The irritation also makes the tissue more likely to contract other infections and diseases.
Silica dust particles can affect employees working in construction, in mines, on railroads, and sandblasting. Stone countertop installers, manufacturers, and finishers are at an especially high risk for silicosis. Silica dust is typically found in engineered stone materials, and employees who work with these materials are frequently exposed to dust particles.
There has been a recent significant increase in silicosis due to the popularity of engineered stone countertops. Natural stone countertops made from materials like marble, granite, and quartz have levels of respirable crystalline silica (RCS), which is also called silica dust. Although natural stone has this material, engineered countertops have a much higher concentration of this material.
The increased use of engineered stone countertops has led to increased risk of silicosis. When engineered stone countertops are cut, polished, and ground down, it releases silica dust into the air. Employees breathe in this dust, and it builds up in their lungs, causing severe damage, inflammation, and lung failure over a period of many years.
Silicosis results in permanent and incurable lung damage and infection, but it may be decades before clear symptoms of the disease show. Symptoms may include:
These are the initial symptoms of silicosis. Long-term exposure puts an individual at an increased risk for:
Silicosis is a developmental disease caused by decades of exposure, or years of high-concentration exposure, to silica dust. In most cases, silicosis is incurable and will worsen over time, especially if the individual continues to breathe in silica. The damage caused by silicosis also makes the lungs more susceptible to other diseases and infections.
Depending on the severity of silica dust exposure, silicosis may take anywhere from a few months to 5-10 years to up to 20 years. Because engineered stone countertops have a higher concentration of silica, exposure to silica dust is increased. Exposure is also worsened when there are insufficient safety precautions.
Stone fabricators and installers who have worked with natural or engineered stone countertops for many years are at high risk for silica and likely are able to file a workers’ compensation claim. Silicosis is preventable with proper safety regulations and care in the workplace.
Unfortunately, employers may ignore or cut corners in these regulations, and their employees may suffer from it. Sometimes, manufacturers or suppliers do not inform buyers about the dangers of this stone.
It is essential that employers and suppliers of these materials inform employees and buyers of safety concerns and that all responsible individuals take the necessary steps to protect those who are exposed to silica dust. Injured employees can file for workers’ compensation.
You are eligible to file a claim if you:
Workers’ compensation laws in California cover all employees, regardless of their immigration status. If you are an employee who was exposed to silica dust for a significant period of time, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim for silicosis and developmental diseases. All employees have the right to a safe workplace free of hazards.
When you are an employee who has suffered a developmental illness in the workplace, like silicosis, you are typically limited to obtaining compensation through workers’ compensation insurance claims.
There are some situations where an employee is able to file a personal injury claim against their employer, but this is rare. If an employer does not carry the required workers’ compensation insurance, injured employees can file a civil personal injury claim. A personal injury claim is also possible if an employer deliberately caused the injury or condition or if an employer acted to conceal the dangers of silica fraudulently.
If a third party is responsible for your silicosis, such as the manufacturer or distributor of the material, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against them in addition to a workers’ compensation claim with your employer.
Most employees are limited to filing a workers’ compensation claim. An attorney can help you determine what legal routes are available to you.
Employees have the right to a safe workplace, and employers are required to take reasonable precautions and follow safety regulations to provide that safe workplace. Many employers have failed to take the proper precautions and provide the necessary safety equipment to protect employees from silica dust exposure. An employer can be held liable for this failure.
Injured employees can file a workers’ compensation claim to obtain certain damages caused by silicosis. You can file a workers’ compensation claim if you contracted silicosis due to exposure while at work.
However, a workers’ compensation claim does have some limitations. You can typically only earn partial income benefits and cannot claim noneconomic damages. An attorney can help you understand what is most beneficial for you and what you qualify for.
The exact amount of your settlement will depend on the damages you suffered and the skill of your workers’ compensation attorney. Your settlement will reflect the damages you suffered as a result of your illness. Factors that influence the amount of your claim include:
Many employees underestimate the damages they deserve. Even though workers’ compensation claims do not include noneconomic damages, they can still cover significant present and future damages.
You are more likely to receive a higher settlement for a workers’ compensation claim when you are with a qualified attorney. Your attorney will have experience valuing your damages and negotiating with the workers’ compensation insurance representation to obtain you the highest possible settlement.
If your attorney does not believe that the insurance provider will allow a fair settlement, they will bring the claim to court. They will advocate for your need for workers’ compensation and skillfully present your case to the judge.
When you suffer from silicosis and related long-term diseases, you may find yourself unable to work in your usual field due to health complications, fatigue, and limited breathing capacity. Additionally, you may be facing significant medical bills to care for your illness and help you manage your symptoms.
A workers’ compensation claim can help with these financial stressors. A claim can recover damages such as:
It can be difficult to obtain the damages you deserve, as insurance providers may attempt to claim the disease was not contracted during your work or that your symptoms are the result of a different disease. An attorney can help negotiate your case, present strong evidence, and improve the claim’s likelihood of success.
The statute of limitations is the amount of time an individual has to file a claim, including a civil personal injury claim, a workers’ compensation claim, or a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations for a workers’ compensation claim is one year from the date of the injury.
However, in the case of silicosis, certain exceptions may apply. The rule of discovery means that the 1-year time limit applies when the employee discovers the illness or injury. Because silicosis is a developmental disease, the 1-year statute of limitations will likely begin when you are diagnosed with silicosis or when you should have known that you had a serious illness.
As soon as you can after receiving an injury or discovering an illness caused by the workplace, you should inform your employer. In California, employees are required to tell their employer of a work-related illness or injury as soon as they can. If you don’t tell your employer about a silicosis diagnosis when you learn of it, you may lose your right to file for workers’ compensation.
It’s also important to begin working with your attorney to file your claim as soon as possible. Although a year may seem like sufficient time, it is beneficial to your claim’s success to begin soon. Waiting too long can cause important evidence such as medical documentation, eyewitnesses, or other evidence to be lost.
This is especially true if you have a developmental illness, as some of the evidence may have to be gathered from many years ago. The closer you get to the statute expiring, the harder it will be to find important evidence to support your claim.
If you are worried that you have been exposed to silica dust and you notice symptoms of silicosis, get in contact with our Los Angeles silica exposure attorneys at the Canlas Law Group. We can help you understand your next steps and how to get the medical diagnosis and documentation you need most effectively. We are dedicated to helping protect employee rights.