The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates workers suffer more than 190,000 illnesses and 50,000 deaths each year due to exposure to dangerous, mostly unregulated chemicals used in the workplace. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified the following five chemicals as responsible for the most workplace injuries:
- Carbon monoxide
- Hydrochloric acid
- Sulfuric acid
Workplace chemical exposure can happen in any workplace, not just in factories producing these chemicals. The effects of chemical exposure vary, and every part of your body is susceptible to injury, including your skin, brain, lungs, liver, kidneys and bladder, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, and immune system. Depending on the type of chemical and how long you were exposed, injuries can involve everything from skin and eye irritation to death. If you or a loved one suffered after being exposed to workplace chemicals, you may be eligible for compensation from those responsible.
What are the most common causes of chemical exposure injuries?
The top three ways chemicals enter your body are:
- Inhaling airborne gas, mist or dust
- Chemicals coming into contact with skin or eyes
- Ingesting chemicals that have come into contact with your food, drinks or hands.
What are the signs of a chemical exposure injury?
You may experience acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) effects from chemical exposure depending on these factors:
- The type of chemical you were exposed to
- How it entered your body
- How long you were exposed to the chemical
- Whether there were reactions with other chemicals (e.g., bleach and ammonia)
- Your own body type, age and overall health
- Any previous exposure
Immediate signs of chemical exposure may include:
- If absorbed through your skin: Itching, redness, burns, blisters or allergic reaction (rashes or hives)
- If absorbed through your eye: Redness, burning, watering, blurred vision, and partial or complete blindness
- If ingested: Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, burning sensation in the stomach, dark urine or dehydration
- If inhaled: Drowsiness, vertigo, headache, confusion, blurred vision, rapid breathing or rapid heart rate
What are the most important steps to take if you suffer a chemical exposure injury?
Regardless of whether your chemical exposure injury is minor or severe, follow the emergency procedures identified by your company, e.g., use the emergency eyewash station and/or first-aid kit. Get additional medical attention immediately, if necessary. Afterward, it is important you take the following steps:
- Write down a detailed description of how you were injured, including what happened before and after you were injured
- Tell your employer about your injury
- Ask for additional information to fully document your case, including your full medical records related to the chemical injury, any input from other witnesses and photos of where you were exposed to the chemical, including any resulting damage to the area
- Keep all documents sent to and from your employer and others involved in the case
- Talk with an experienced Washington personal injury attorney to discuss the details of your case and possible recoverable damages
Who can I sue following a chemical exposure injury in Washington State?
In Washington State, your employer’s liability is covered by its workers’ compensation policy, which it is required to carry. You may not sue your employer directly, except in a few unique circumstances; however, other third parties – everyone from an office building’s owner to personal protective equipment (PPE) and chemical handling equipment manufacturers – may be liable for your injuries. An experienced Washington personal injury attorney can review your case to determine whether others might be held responsible for injuries or death that occurred from exposure to toxic chemicals.
What kind of damages can I recover in a Washington State chemical exposure injury lawsuit?
Potentially recoverable damages following a chemical exposure injury in Washington include:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of function
- Permanent disability
- Death of a loved one
How long do I have to file a chemical exposure injury lawsuit in Washington State?
In Washington State, you have one year from the date you were injured to file a workers’ compensation claim for your chemical exposure injuries. You have three years from the date of your chemical exposure accident to file third-party claims against other individuals and companies that may be liable.
How can PCVA help if you have been injured by exposure to chemicals in Washington State?
PCVA’s experienced attorneys can help you understand your options for pursuing compensation and damages from those responsible for the injuries you suffered after exposure to hazardous chemicals in Washington. If you would like to speak with a PCVA lawyer, complete our online form or call us at (253) 948-3199 or (206) 536-2850.
How much does PCVA charge?
Our work is done on a contingency basis. This means that you do not pay us on an hourly basis, and we advance the costs of litigation. If we help you resolve your case, we receive a percentage of the amount you receive, and you reimburse us for the costs we advanced on your behalf.