Exposure to Toxic Substances
In some industries, employers regularly call upon employees to use or handle dangerous chemicals and materials. Although most workplaces employ safety measures to prevent hazardous products from harming employees, many employees nonetheless suffer illnesses and injuries due to exposure to toxic substances. Workers’ compensation claims arising out of exposure to toxic substances are often complicated, and it is critical to consult an attorney to discuss whether you may be eligible for benefits. At The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, our diligent New Jersey work injury lawyers are adept at handling complex workers’ compensation claims, and we will aggressively advocate on your behalf to help you recover any benefits that you may be owed. We regularly represent people in workers’ compensation matters throughout New Jersey.Harm Caused by Exposure to Toxic Substances
Numerous substances and chemicals that employees commonly encounter in the workplace are toxic and can cause employee illnesses, injuries, or deaths, but some substances are more prevalent than others. For example, asbestos, uranium, mercury, lead, formaldehyde, benzene, and silica are substances that commonly cause workplace harm. When toxic substances are inhaled or ingested, or come into contact with the skin, they can cause chemical burns, respiratory illnesses, and cancer. Some hazardous substances are safe in small amounts, while others can cause harm through a single exposure. While sometimes the harm caused by exposure to toxic substances appears immediately after the exposure, at other times, it can take weeks, months, or even years to develop, and employers may dispute whether the harm is work-related.Benefits That You May Recover Following Exposure to Toxic Substances
An employee who suffers harm due to exposure to toxic substances in the workplace may be eligible to recover workers’ compensation benefits, regardless of whether the employer took measures to ensure the employee’s safety. Under New Jersey law, to recover benefits, a person must establish that he or she was an employee and that the harm occurred while the person was in the course and scope of his or her employment. In other words, independent contractors are not owed benefits, nor are people harmed by non-work-related exposures.
Generally, the complexity of a workers’ compensation claim involving harm caused by exposure to toxic substances depends on whether the employee suffered an acute injury or an illness caused by repeated exposure. In cases involving acute harm that is evident immediately after the exposure, the employer may not dispute that the exposure caused the harm. In cases involving an illness arising out of repeated exposure to a toxic substance, however, the employee often does not exhibit any symptoms until months or years after the exposure, and the employer may dispute that the illness is work-related. In these cases, the employee will often need to undergo a medical examination to determine the cause of his or her illness.
If the work-related nature of the harm is established, the employee may be eligible to recover medical benefits, which consist of any medical treatment that is necessary and reasonable. This may include surgery, hospitalization, therapy, prescriptions, and adaptive devices. Notably, however, the employer generally has the right to choose the employee’s treating physician. If the employee cannot work due to his or her harm, he or she may be eligible to recover disability benefits as well. Temporary total disability benefits are paid when an employee cannot work for more than seven days, at a rate of 70% of the employee's weekly wage, within specified limits. Temporary total benefits will usually continue until the employee returns to work or reaches maximum medical improvement. If the employee remains disabled when the temporary disability period ends, he or she may be eligible to receive permanent total or partial disability benefits as well.Speak with a Trusted Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Toxic substances can cause serious illnesses that diminish quality of life and render a person unable to work. If you were exposed to a toxic substance in the workplace, you should speak with an attorney regarding which benefits you may be able to recover. At The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, our dedicated workers’ compensation attorneys will help you seek the maximum amount of benefits that you may be owed for your harm. We have three offices, which are located in Freehold, Toms River, and New Brunswick, and we routinely assist people in workers’ compensation cases throughout New Jersey, including people in Burlington, Atlantic, Bergen, Camden, Hudson, Essex, Middlesex, Mercer, Ocean, Somerset, Monmouth, Passaic, and Union Counties. We can be contacted at (800) 999-0897 or via our online form to schedule a conference.