Camden County Workers Compensation: Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
Many Camden County employers work in industries that rely on various chemicals. While chemical use is unavoidable in many jobs, chemical exposure can also cause severe injuries to workers.
Some types of chemical exposure cause immediate or near-immediate symptoms. It’s easy to connect the injury or illness and the chemical exposure. Other chemicals take years to build up in the body. For these workers, connecting the symptoms, they have now and the chemical exposure they faced months, years, or decades ago can be more challenging.
No matter what situation you’re in, help is available. The experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys at Petrillo & Goldberg can help you understand your rights under workers’ compensation law and take the next step.
Injury and illness from chemical exposure take many forms, including:
- Inhalation injuries from breathing toxic chemicals,
- Chemical burns occur when poisonous chemicals come in contact with the skin,
- Poisoning that results from chemicals being ingested or absorbed,
- Long-term internal damage from chemicals in the bloodstream or body tissues.
Each form of chemical exposure can cause harm. The harm caused may depend on the type of chemical involved, the dose received, and the exposure method.
For example, in 2017, 41 US workers died after inhaling chemicals just once, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Carbon monoxide was the most common chemical, followed by hydrogen sulfide.
The New Jersey Department of Health tracks cases of acute work-related injuries and illnesses related to pesticide use. In 2017, the department reported 45 cases in which a worker needed the help of a poison control center after pesticide exposure.
Some chemical-related injuries and illnesses may take years or decades to develop. For example, mesothelioma is a form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure. Many mesothelioma patients worked with asbestos during their careers. Yet, they could not connect that work and any harm until they learned of their mesothelioma diagnosis – sometimes, years after they had stopped working.
If toxic chemical exposure causes immediate harm or builds up over time, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you’re injured on the job.
If you suffer an immediate injury:
First, seek medical attention. In an emergency, visit the nearest emergency room at once. If your injury is not an emergency, ask your supervisor for the name of the hospital or doctor your employer has chosen for workers’ compensation cases, and go there as soon as possible.
Within 90 days of the injury, tell your employer you were injured. It can be helpful to put this notice in writing. Include the date, time, and place of your injury and the name of the person to whom you’re giving the notice. Also, include the date and time you’re giving notice. Keep a copy for your records.
Your employer has 21 days after receiving this notice to file a report with the state Division of Workers’ Compensation. This report officially opens your workers’ compensation claim.
If your injury or illness built up over time:
If you suspect an injury or illness you have today related to work you did months, years, or decades ago, tell your employer if you’re still working at the same place. Give notice just like you would for a sudden injury or illness. See the doctor your employer has chosen for workers’ compensation cases.
If you’re not working for the same employer or have retired, talk to an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney. Your lawyer can help you determine the next steps.
Workers’ compensation provides medical and other benefits for workers who experience injury or illness. For injuries caused by toxic chemical exposure, workers’ compensation can help by providing the following:
- Permanent total benefits if your injury or illness prematurely ends your working years.
- Permanent partial benefits if your injury or illness permanently restricts your ability to work.
- Medical benefits for your diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of your injury or illness.
- Temporary total benefits to help you make ends meet if you have to take time off work or restrict your work tasks.
Death benefits may also be paid to family members if a worker pays the ultimate price for a toxic chemical-related injury or illness.
Exposure to toxic chemicals can pose challenges for workers and families. Whether you knew right away, you’d been injured or only developed an illness after many years. It’s essential to seek the help you need.
Contact the New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys at Petrillo & Goldberg today if you’ve been injured in Camden County. Our legal team will help you understand your rights and options. We’ll answer your questions and help you make the best decision for you and your family.