Ready to learn more about your legal options and right to seek compensation? Contact a New York chemicals exposure lawyer at The Weinstein Law Group today at (212) 741-3800 for a free consultation about your case.
How much does it cost to hire a New York chemical exposure lawyer?
Many New York City chemical exposure lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning they’re paid on the contingency they win your case. The experienced construction accident injury attorneys at The Weinstein Law Group make it easy for injured workers like you to pursue justice against the party that caused your chemical exposure injuries by operating on a contingent fee structure, so you have access to quality legal representation without a significant upfront cost.
We handle the upfront legal costs so you can recover from your injuries in peace without worrying about money. We’ll gladly discuss our fee structure at your free initial case review.
What should I do after being exposed to a toxic chemical at work?
The complications of chemical exposure on a construction site can be life-threatening, so seek immediate medical attention. Prompt medical care can be the difference in how well you recover and whether you suffer long-lasting health complications. Call 911 if you’re unable to get to the emergency room by yourself.
Even mild to moderate chemical exposure should be taken seriously. Alert your employer about the incident and ask where you should seek medical treatment. There’s a good chance your injury is covered under the employer’s NY Workers’ Compensation insurance, but to access these benefits, you need to report the injury.
What you do in the days after the exposure impacts both your recovery and a potential lawsuit or workers’ compensation claim.
1. Report the injury
Any workplace injury should be reported to your employer as soon as possible. You have 30 days to report the injury to your employer or risk losing any workers’ comp benefits you’re entitled to.
2. Follow all instructions your treating physician provides
This gives you the best chance for healing and preserves your workers’ comp benefits. Instructions can include taking all medication or applying topical creams, seeing a specialist, like a dermatologist or pulmonologist, and complying with any type of work or activity restrictions.
3. Hold on to every piece of documentation related to your injury
Save all documentation related to the exposure and give copies to your lawyer. Your medical records are vital evidence in your case, linking your injury and any illness that develops to workplace chemical exposure. If you have a work incident report, save that, too, and any communication from your employer, their workers’ comp insurance carrier, or their lawyer.
4. Speak with a New York chemicals exposure lawyer
The sooner you contact an attorney, the better, as they can advise you about your benefits under workers’ comp and whether you’re eligible to file a third-party lawsuit for compensation.
What types of chemicals can you be exposed to on a construction site?
Construction work encompasses a wide variety of tasks, from demolition and removing materials from older buildings to pouring concrete, painting and staining, welding, and installing insulation. Each of these tasks could expose a worker to different chemicals. If you’re working in an older building, there’s no telling what you could find on a job site.
Some of the chemicals a construction worker could encounter include:
- Asbestos – Found in older insulation, brick, and some tiles
- Silica – Present in sand, stone, and some tiles
- Mercury – Used in some rust-proof paint or other coating. Dangerous fumes are released when these products are heated
- Cadmium – Used to prevent rust. It’s found in almost all steel materials and products on a construction site
- Lead – Older buildings and homes may have lead paint present
- Arsenic – Used as a preservative in many wood products
- Formaldehyde – Another common chemical in wood products
Welding and metalwork present their own specific toxic chemical dangers. If your construction job includes working with metal, you could be exposed to:
- Zinc – Produces dangerous fumes when the materials are cut or welded in metal manufacturing
- Beryllium – A copper alloy so toxic that OSHA highly regulates its use and toxicity levels
- Manganese – Used in welding rods. It produces toxic fumes when heated
- Iron oxide – Produced when steel products are heated or welded
These may not be the only toxic chemicals you encounter at your job site. When you visit the doctor, tell them exactly what you were doing and what kind of materials you were working with.
What injuries are caused by exposure to toxic chemicals?
The exact type of injury from chemical exposure depends on the chemical itself, although toxic chemicals typically cause:
- Skin damage, like rashes, burns, or necrosis
- Respiratory problems
- Progressive illnesses, like cancer or blood poisoning
- Internal organ damage
Toxic exposure can sometimes show up right away, like in the case of a chemical burn. Other times, though, the damage is cumulative, and the effects of the exposure may not show up for years. This can make it complicated for a New York chemical exposure lawyer to definitively link your illness or injury to the exposure from a job you may have held years ago, so hiring someone with experience is key.
Some specific injuries and illnesses workers exposed to toxic chemicals may contract include:
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
An umbrella term for several respiratory diseases, including pulmonary edema and emphysema.
A specific type of lung cancer that’s linked to asbestos exposure.
Causes damage to the kidneys, brain and nervous system, muscles, circulatory system, and heart, and can cause reproductive complications.
“Metal Fume Fever”
A colorful term referring to a flu-like disease caused by zinc fume inhalation. Symptoms include pneumonia and lung inflammation, muscle aches and joint pain, and nausea.
Including larynx, lung, bladder, and urinary tract cancers.
Scarring of the lungs, commonly contracted by prolonged inhalation of silica dust (like cutting tiles, bricks, or sandblasting).
A progressive neurological disorder akin to Parkinson’s Disease with symptoms like shaking and tremors, difficulty walking, and facial tics. Over time, the victim may develop lung, kidney, or liver problems.
Many of these illnesses require ongoing medical care or even treatment in a skilled nursing facility, and costs can quickly add up. You may be unable to return to work, or if you can work, it’s in a limited capacity, and you may not be earning nearly what you were before the inset of your chemical exposure illness or injury.
You deserve to be compensated for these losses, plus your pain and suffering from the disease and your reduced quality of life.
New York toxic exposure laws
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) established minimum safe working conditions on construction and demolition job sites, enforcing standards for employers and regulating exposure to toxic chemicals. Its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) sets a standard of training for employers to classify and label hazardous materials on the job site and instructs employers to train workers on the safe handling of these materials.
OSHA is a federal organization, and its regulations apply in all states. New York also has workers safety laws, such as the Right to Know Law (RTK), which mandates:
- Employers keep a list of all hazardous chemicals at the job site, such as OSHA’s Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
- Keep a data log of all chemicals used on-site
- Conduct annual training for hazardous materials handling
- New York Labor Law, Article 28, covers New York workers’ rights when handling toxic substances.
Even with these regulations (and stiff penalties for employers who violate OSHA regulations or New York Labor Laws), accidents still happen, so if you’ve been harmed, contact a chemical exposure lawyer. New York workplace injury laws offer benefits for injured workers, and your attorney can guide you through claiming them.
How can an attorney help me?
Whether you plan to file a third-party workplace injury lawsuit or claim workers’ compensation benefits, or both, an attorney can make the process easier for you in multiple ways:
File your paperwork
One error or omission in a filing could cause weeks of delays or even a denial of your claim or case.
Maximize your compensation
Experienced workplace injury attorneys can properly value your case, seeking top-dollar compensation. Insurance companies are notorious for lowballing valid claims. Your attorney can advise you whether a proposed settlement is fair.
Investigate your case
Your lawyer has access to resources you may not, to gather evidence, subpoena safety records of your employer or production records of a chemical manufacturer, and interview expert witnesses to support your claim.
Provide guidance and support
Your lawyer works for you and represents your interests. They can answer your questions and protect you during the claims or lawsuit process.
Negotiate a settlement
Many workplace injury cases are settled out of court in structured mediation or arbitration. These negotiations may be intimidating for injured workers, especially those who are still recovering from the effects of harmful chemical exposure. Your attorney tenaciously negotiates and fights for the best possible outcome.
Advocate in court
Whether your workplace injury lawsuit goes to trial or you have a hearing before the New York Workers’ Compensation Board, your lawyer can fight and vigorously advocate for your rights.
Injured by a toxic chemical on a construction site? We can help.
When you work with The Weinstein Law Group, you’ll receive the full support of our legal team. We take over your burden of investigating the cause of your accident, identifying the liable parties, negotiating in mediation, and petitioning for a workers’ compensation appeal.
We pride ourselves on our client-focused advocacy and have tangible results to back it up. Since we’ve been in business, we have hundreds of successfully closed cases and have secured millions of dollars in compensation for our clients.
Don’t try to navigate the New York workers’ compensation system or civil courts alone. We’re ready to help today. Contact The Weinstein Law Group today by calling (212) 741-3800 for a free consultation with an experienced New York chemical exposure injury lawyer.