Thousands of workers whose jobs involve cutting engineered stone for kitchen countertops are at risk of developing a potentially deadly disease called silicosis. This disease is caused by inhaling silica dust that is released when the counters are being manufactured or cut. Silica is very abundant and is the primary component of sand and rocks. Its structure is crystalline, and when workers inhale silica particles, the particles can become lodged in the air sacs of their lungs where oxygen is exchanged. If you have been diagnosed with silicosis, you should talk to a silica exposure at work Lake Charles Lawyer.
Who is at risk of silicosis?
Stonecutters are not the only people who are at risk of developing silicosis. Cases involving silica exposure at work originate from many different industries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that nearly 2 million Americans are at risk of silica exposure at work. The agency identifies the following occupations as having an especially high risk for silica exposure:
- Rock drilling and cutting
- Quarry work
- Stone cutting
- Foundry work
Any type of job that involves drilling, cutting, or chipping stones may place workers at risk of developing silicosis if they do not follow OSHA guidelines to prevent exposure to silica. People who are diagnosed with silicosis after being exposed to silica at work may file claims for workers’ compensation benefits from their employers.
What is silicosis?
Silicosis is a progressive disease that is caused by embedded silica particles in the air sacs of the lungs. These particles can damage the lining and cause extensive lung scarring. The fibrous scars can interfere with the victim’s ability to breathe. The symptoms of silicosis will depend on the form of the disease that people have.
Simple or chronic silicosis normally shows symptoms approximately 10 to 30 years after exposure to silica. Simple silicosis may not show symptoms or may be characterized by breathlessness and trouble breathing. This type of silicosis normally involves exposure to low levels of silica over a long period.
Accelerated silicosis may occur when a worker has been exposed to high levels of silica over a short period. This form of the disease may show symptoms from five to 15 years after the exposure. In cases of accelerated silicosis, the symptoms may progress faster than the symptoms of simple silicosis.
Acute silicosis may occur when workers are exposed to large amounts of silica in a short period. This is the most serious form of the disease and may include symptoms such as highly inflamed lungs, extensive scars, fluid in the lungs, and severe shortness of breath.
Workers who develop silicosis may file claims to recover compensation for their medical bills, future anticipated medical costs, out-of-pocket expenses, and a portion of their former incomes from the loss of their ability to work. When silicosis claims are filed, the companies may try to negotiate settlement offers with the victims directly. Someone who has developed silicosis may be contacted by the insurance company soon after it learns of the diagnosis. The company may extend a settlement offer and ask the victim to sign it. Companies may also ask injured victims to sign medical releases to document the severity of their injuries, and they might request the victims submit to recorded interviews.
People should avoid signing anything from a company before talking to a silica exposure at work Lake Charles lawyer at Broussard & Hart. In many cases, the initial offers that may be extended by companies to victims are low-ball offers that will not cover all of the losses that have been suffered. An attorney can properly value a claim and work to secure a fair offer.
Medical releases are used by companies to access the medical records of victims so that they can try to identify a different event on which to blame the injuries. Recorded interviews are used by companies to try to secure statements that can be used against the victims.
Why you should hire a silica exposure attorney
An experienced lawyer understands the various strategies that companies use to minimize or avoid paying claims. People who have been diagnosed with silicosis should schedule a consultation with Broussard & Hart as soon as possible and should not sign anything that is sent to them by a company without having the documents reviewed. An attorney can handle the claims process for the victim while the victim concentrates on his or her treatment. Contact us today at 866.281.4774 to schedule a free consultation
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