Depending on the nature of work, an employee can get injured by chemicals while performing their duties. What is the way forward after such injuries? The employee might decide to sue their employer or a third-party company for the damages.
When should you sue? Generally, each state has its own statute of limitations that governs the window of time that the victim might bring his/her claim. This timeframe is generally determined by the date of injury or last compensation payment. However, it is important to speak with a licensed attorney and refer to your own state’s respective statutes to determine when you should file your claim.
When Chemicals Cause Injuries at Work
Most companies handle dangerous chemicals in their own way. There are safety procedures designed to protect workers from exposure for the most part. Again, the chemical will determine the nature of the protective measure applied.
For some chemicals, the worker may be required to wear some form of protective gear when handling them. Storage in a protective container is a sufficient safety measure for other chemicals.
When safety protocols are violated, these chemicals can come into contact with workers and cause serious harm when they contact the skin, get ingested, or get inhaled. A typical example is when a chemical leak contaminates the water in a building. Consuming contaminated water can cause severe harm and affect multiple people. In such cases, a class-action lawsuit could be the right way forward.
An injured person must report their injury to their employer as soon as possible. “An injured employee must fulfill multiple reporting requirements, and do so in a timely manner,” says workers’ compensation attorney Nicholas Stamatis of Price Benowitz Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP. An attorney will be able to help you file your claim and ensure there are no missing steps or documents.
The Workers’ Compensation Claim
After a chemical injures an employee at work, they could file a workers’ compensation claim. They could also go for a personal injury claim, but this primarily covers injuries involving a third party and might not be a good idea.
Depending on the circumstances, a workers’ compensation claim might be the best way forward for several reasons. To begin with, it covers most damages, including lack of income due to recovery.
One significant concern with the workers’ compensation claim is that it lacks pain and suffering damage rewards. If the damages for this claim are insufficient, the victim could follow other routes for additional rewards.
If the exposure to the chemical happens outside of work, then a personal injury claim would be the best way forward. The statute of limitations for such cases usually is one to two years after exposure to the toxic chemical.
The party behind the exposure should be held responsible for the case. If the victim suffered exposure while at work but the chemical was sourced from a third party, they could be entitled to both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims.
The Timeline for Filing These Claims
The statute of limitations for such cases in most states is between one to two years. However, the discovery rule can significantly affect this period. Here is why: Some symptoms after exposure to hazardous chemicals can appear after a long time.
The statute of limitations may pass, but the victim may have been unaware of the effects of the chemical since there were no signs and symptoms. In such cases, the discovery rule will apply.
In cases where the symptoms do not show, the discovery rule will determine when the statute of limitations will start. Usually, it starts from the period when the victim receives the diagnosis from the doctor. Calculations for compensation owed are normally critical in such situations. This is because the victim has to factor in treatment costs for the future.