While a workplace injury can happen to anyone, there are some jobs that are particularly dangerous. Occupations that involve hazardous materials or toxic chemicals can put a worker at risk of long-term and life-threatening health problems. These can mean significant medical bills and lost wages. If you’ve been injured in a workplace accident involving hazardous materials, who can you count on to fight for the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve?
Turn to the aggressive and experienced workers’ compensation attorneys of Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP. When you hire us to represent you, we get busy demanding the maximum benefits available to you under Pennsylvania law.
Types Of Hazardous Materials
Any occupation carries the potential risk of exposure to hazardous materials. However, certain jobs are more likely than others to expose their workers to such substances as:
- Carbon monoxide
- Heavy metals, such as lead
- Biohazardous materials and medical waste
- Flammable and corrosive materials
- Radioactive waste
If you work in construction, heavy industry, or the medical field, there’s a good chance you could be exposed to these hazardous materials. But that doesn’t mean an office worker is necessarily immune. A company could be located in a building with asbestos and mold, thereby exposing everyone to potentially deadly substances.
Health Problems Caused By Hazardous Materials
Some HAZMAT injuries are readily identifiable. Immediately after an accident involving a chemical spill, for example, a worker could suffer severe burns. However, other health complications may take months or even years to manifest themselves. This is especially true when a worker is exposed to hazardous materials that gradually build up in their system.
These are just a few of the health problems that hazardous materials can cause:
- Skin conditions
- Infections, including HIV and hepatitis
- Lung diseases
- Neurological injuries
- Reproductive problems, such as miscarriages and birth defects
HAZMAT exposure at the workplace often leads to what are known as occupational diseases or illnesses. These are conditions that a worker contracts primarily because of risk factors that arise through work. For example, chemical poisoning may be considered an occupational disease if a worker routinely comes into contact with dangerous chemicals during the normal course of their job. A one-time injury, such as a burn, can be distinguished from an occupational disease that stays with the worker.
What To Expect In A Hazardous Materials Workers’ Compensation Case
If you were injured or became sick because of exposure to hazardous materials in the workplace, you are generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, employers and their workers’ compensation insurers routinely challenge occupational disease claims that result from HAZMAT injuries. This is due to two main features of these conditions:
- The time it takes (sometimes years) for HAZMAT exposure to develop into a diagnosed occupational disease
- The significant medical treatments (and therefore costs) that occupational disease victims require
Workers’ compensation benefits cover medical expenses associated with injuries on the job. For a one-time injury, like a broken leg, these costs can be reasonably predicted. But cancers, infections, occupational diseases, and other long-term problems spell major expenses for employers and their insurers. On top of that, the lost wages in these cases (another benefit that workers’ compensation provides) will likely be significant. That’s why a worker injured by hazardous materials can expect significant resistance when it comes to claiming benefits.
Why You Need An Experienced Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Attorney For Hazardous Materials
Occupational diseases and other health problems caused by hazardous materials can be notoriously difficult to prove. An injured worker has to generally show that their injury or illness was suffered as a result of their employment. But, as mentioned above, it may take a long time before your injury is revealed.
That’s where having an expert witness could prove necessary for your case. An expert witness is someone who testifies about a medical or scientific topic, or something else that’s highly technical. You may need someone who can present evidence concerning the hazardous material that caused you injury. This will be necessary to establish the workplace connection and therefore win benefits.
Our law firm has a network of trusted expert witnesses upon whom we rely in HAZMAT cases. We also thoroughly understand Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law. After a workplace injury, a worker has to follow a series of steps – many of which have deadlines – to claim benefits. Missing any of these steps, or doing them incorrectly, can jeopardize your benefits. When you retain us, we take care of the paperwork necessary to win the compensation you need and deserve.
Although workplace injuries and illnesses should qualify an employee for workers’ compensation, not all companies and insurers play by the rules. Your employer, or the insurance company, may attempt to deny your claim or minimize the amount of money it pays. There’s a chance that one of these parties could miscalculate your benefits and leave you without the money you deserve. Employers and their insurance carriers often rely on their workers’ lack of understanding of how workers’ compensation works. Don’t let them take advantage of you; hire a dedicated attorney.
Finally, if your claim has been wrongfully denied, we can also help you appeal the decision. There’s a process to appealing adverse workers’ compensation decisions, but our lawyers understand how to do so. Reach out to us if you have a hazardous materials claim that was rejected by your employer or the insurance company.
Contact Our Lancaster Workers’ Compensation Hazardous Materials Attorney
Remember, just because you retain a workers’ compensation lawyer does not necessarily mean you will take your employer to court. Our goal at Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP, is to make sure your legal rights are protected and that you receive the benefits to which you’re entitled. If you’ve suffered a workplace injury or illness because of hazardous materials, give us a call to talk about your case.