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Dealing with Toxic Chemicals

When a person inhales toxic fumes, they can sustain an acute injury. There are many substances that can cause these injuries, such as smoke, or gases from product manufacturing. When toxic gases are inhaled, they dissolve into the moisture of the respiratory tract. This can cause the respiratory tract to become inflamed. There are a number of common irritants that can cause this reaction, and a number of effects that can be felt. The consequences range from minor respiratory discomfort to death.

No matter what substance is inhaled, it is important that those who hurt understand they may be able to claim compensation if they have a significant injury. If the injury occurred on the job, those hurt may file a claim through workers’ compensation. At times, an injury claim is also appropriate for a work related injury. Those that were not on the job when injured may be able to obtain compensation through a lawsuit filed by an experienced toxic fumes lawyer. 

Common Causes of Toxic Fumes Injuries

There are many different substances that cause toxic fume injuries:

  • Smoke inhalation: Smoke inhalation can be an injury on its own, but it is more commonly associated with burn injuries. The main cause of death in burn centers is respiratory failure from smoke inhalation.
  • Chlorine: This is a very common gas that has many uses in several industries. Chlorine disinfects water and is an important part of the sanitation process for sewers and industrial waste products. Many household products, such as cleaning agents, also contain chlorine. Inhaling chlorine can result in tightness of the chest, wheezing, and severe coughing. 
  • Phosgene: While this substance is widely known as being used as a chemical weapon during World War I, it has many uses today. Pharmaceuticals and other organic compounds rely on phosgene. Inhalation of this substance can cause cell death in the lungs and result in pulmonary edema (swelling of the heart). 
  • Ammonia: Another common household cleaning agent, ammonia is toxic and causes many injuries when inhaled. These include respiratory distress or failure. 
  • Sulfur mustard: The resulting toxic fumes from this gas are extremely harmful to humans. Victims often suffer from respiratory tract lesions, bone marrow depression, and eye damage. Chronic bronchitis is another injury that can result from the inhalation of sulfur mustard. 
  • Chloramine: This gas is released when ammonia and bleach are accidentally mixed together, typically through household cleaning products. It can cause severe respiratory irritation and acute lung injury

While there are many different causes of injuries from toxic fumes, there are two basic options injured individuals have for claiming compensation. They can either file a workers’ compensation claim, or a personal injury claim. 

Workers’ Compensation Claim versus Personal Injury Claim

When injuries from toxic fumes are sustained at work, the employee can usually file a workers’ compensation claim. Employers in Illinois are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in the event that an employee becomes injured on the job. Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance, meaning those injured can still file a claim even if there is no evidence of negligence or carelessness by the employer. 

Although most workplace injuries will go through the workers’ compensation system, there are instances in which hurt workers can file a lawsuit. If an employer does not carry insurance, injured employees can sometimes file a claim directly against the employer. If a worker was injured by a third party, such as a supplier of the toxic substance, those injured can also file a lawsuit or a “third-party” injury claim

When injuries from toxic fumes are not sustained at work, those injured may be able to file an injury claim against the liable party. For example, a household cleaner may fail to warn the consumer that it contains bleach. If the consumer then mixes it with ammonia, not knowing it was dangerous, they could suffer from chloramine injuries. They could then file a personal injury claim against the manufacturer for failing to warn them of the risk associated with their product. Or an establishment such as a restaurant may have a gas leak from one of its appliances such as a stove or a furnace. If so, and the management knew or should have known of the danger and failed to act, it may be responsible for the injuries.

We handled a case by a tenant against her landlord after she sustained a significant injury due to a faulty gas heater that emitted dangerous fumes. 

Did You Sustain a Toxic Fumes Injury? Call Our Chicago Toxic Fumes Lawyers

While workers’ compensation and personal injury claims can provide compensation for those hurt by toxic fumes, neither is a simple process. The workers’ compensation system in Illinois quickly becomes complex, and personal injury lawsuits often present many of their own unique challenges. If you have been hurt due to inhaling toxic fumes, you need an experienced attorney that can help you through the process. 

At the Blumenshine Law Group, we can help you file a claim for your injuries. We will negotiate with insurance companies and hold them accountable for paying the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (312) 766-1000 or [email protected] to schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys.

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