Millions of gallons of dangerous chemicals are used in the city of New York on a daily basis in places like private homes and public businesses. Dangerous exposure to toxic chemicals can occur in the most seemingly safe environments but injuries from the exposure can include serious conditions such as cancer and birth defects.
A toxic tort is a legal claim for any damage caused by exposure to a harmful substance. This exposure can take place in an occupational setting or in the form of a dangerous pharmaceutical drug. Because the injuries associated with chemical exposure can be extremely severe if not fatal, victims of exposure can claim damages from the person or party responsible for the hazardous environment that led to their condition.
With technology and industry thriving, especially in a city like New York, the presence of chemicals is universal. They are everywhere. Although they may be an inevitable part of life in this modern age, the exposure to harmful chemicals can be controlled to a reasonably safe limit. That is the principle behind toxic torts. The claims involve negligence on the part of the defendant who allegedly caused the plaintiff to be exposed to the chemicals more than was reasonably necessary.
Types of Exposure
Injuries from chemicals can develop from different types of exposure depending on intensity and duration of the exposure. An acute exposure is a single interaction with a dangerous substance that may result in permanent injury such as nerve damage and fibromyalgia. This type of exposure is especially prevalent in the workforce under settings such as construction work.
Chronic exposure is a slow, steady exposure to a chemical over a longer period of time. Minimal exposure to the toxic chemical can accumulate, causing damage to the immune system, the respiratory system and even increase chances of developing cancer. Chronic exposure over a lengthened period of time can lead to what medical professionals in the field refer to as an acute episode. An individual may be exposed to a chemical that seemingly has no damage until they are exposed to one big dose of the toxin which quickly reaches toxic level and causes injuries equal to acute exposure. Acute episodes are unforeseen and often undetectable until it is too late for the exposed individual.
Chemical Exposure in the Workplace
The majority of toxic exposure victims contract their injuries from contact with harmful chemicals in their workplace. The nature of work usually contributes to the likelihood of exposure, such as in industrial and construction work. These occupations may lead a worker to acute or chronic exposure of a chemical on the work site due to a leak or mishandling of the chemical. Some substances used on construction sites are thought to be safe until they are discovered as toxic, such as asbestos and benzene.
Asbestos is a fibrous material used in dozens of industries for years. Far before becoming popular, the substance was suspected to link to serious medical issues such as lung cancer and mesothelioma. Despite the obvious risks of the material, asbestos was employed in different occupations exposing thousands of workers to its harmful effects on a daily basis. Over the years, those thousands of workers have suffered from debilitating if not fatal effects of the substances through the contraction of different types of cancer.
One noteworthy type of cancer linked directly to exposure to asbestos is called mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is known as the asbestos disease specifically because it is contracted after chronic or acute exposure to the substance. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that breaks down the lining of the chest and abdomen causing the difficulty of breathing and many times leading to the patient’s death. The cancer can be contracted by anyone exposed to asbestos and since the material has been incorporated in the infrastructure of countless buildings, the number of effected individuals is untold.
Benzene is a chemical compound that can be found in a number of work materials used on industrial plants and construction sites. Exposure to the chemical has been linked to cancer and other forms of health problems. Because of its benzene’s toxicity, it has been found to cause the most damage to workers at industrial plants where benzene is used as an ingredient in the product being manufactured.
Benzene has been found in oil, gasoline and especially plastic and rubber. Anyone working in industries where benzene is used as a component in production is at risk of contracting benzene-related diseases. Steel workers, printers, rubber manufacturers, plastic industry workers and laboratory technicians are just few of the groups that are exposed to the chemical on a daily basis.
The Damage of Toxic Exposure
While chemical exposure is extremely prevalent in certain industries of work, it can occur anywhere and at any time. Chemical spills, polluting emissions or even household chemicals that have unknown effects can lead innocent, unsuspecting victims to contract damaging and debilitating diseases.
Chemical exposure not only can cause cancer but also other equally damaging conditions such as chronic fatigue, chemical sensitivity and fibromyalgia, which all involve the weakening of the body’s functions because of chemical damage. Respiratory diseases such as sinusitis and toxic asthma can be contracted after prolonged minimum exposure to harmful substances; even autoimmune diseases such as lupus has been linked to toxic exposure. Birth defects have been known to be caused by the mother’s inhalation to harmful chemicals that may do no damage to her adult system but cause developmental issues for the fetus.
Taking Legal Action for Toxic Exposure
Throughout the years, attention to the damaging effects of chemical use has caused both environmental organizations and governmental authorities to questions the necessity. Unfortunately, these chemicals are already a very present reality in the world. Therefore, laws on limits to exposure have been put in place to protect individuals from harm as much as possible. Under these laws, violation of overexposure can be deal with through legal action, such as a personal injury claim.
Toxic torts involve the same elements of a personal injury claim, including duty and negligence. However, they prove to be much more challenging than most other negligence claims because tort defendants tend to equip themselves with aggressive representation. That is why injured individuals of toxic exposure need equally aggressive representation for their claims in the form of an experienced New York City personal injury attorney with proven results.
At the Law Office of Richard M. Kenny, we handle all types of tort claims, including those involving chemical exposure. If you or someone you know was injured because of chronic or acute exposure to a damaging substance, contact a NYC injury lawyer from our office to learn how we can assist you in claiming the compensation that is rightfully yours.