Learn about your legal rights and options from an experienced construction accident attorney in New York City
Construction workers often face severe injuries and illnesses from exposure to hazardous and toxic chemicals at job sites. If you are an injured construction worker in this situation, you may have questions about your legal options. One of the most common questions is whether you can sue for toxic exposure on a construction site.
While there is no definitive answer, the possibility of filing a lawsuit depends on several factors. These include the toxic chemicals you were exposed to, how you were exposed to them, and when the exposure occurred. At Keogh Crispi, P.C., located in Manhattan, New York, we can help answer your questions and provide a detailed understanding of your legal rights.
We have the knowledge and experience to guide you through the legal process and help you make informed decisions. We understand the complexities of construction accident cases and are committed to ensuring our clients receive the compensation they deserve for their injuries and suffering. If you are a construction worker who has suffered injuries or illnesses due to toxic exposure on a job site in New York, contact us today for a free consultation to see how an experienced construction accident lawyer can help you.
How common are toxic exposure injuries or illnesses?
Exposure to toxic or hazardous substances is a significant and prevalent cause of work-related injuries and illnesses. Shockingly, in 2020, 424,360 workers sustained non-fatal injuries and illnesses from exposure to harmful substances, as per the National Safety Council's workplace accident statistics.
Unfortunately, in 2021, work-related exposure to harmful substances led to the highest death toll in a single year since 2011, resulting in 798 fatalities nationwide. This represents an 18.8 percent increase compared to 2020, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
What are common health problems caused by toxic exposure?
Construction workers are frequently exposed to toxic chemicals and other hazardous substances, resulting in injuries and illnesses. These injuries and illnesses may include:
- Aplastic anemia – A rare blood disorder that can be caused by viral infections, autoimmune disorders, or exposure to toxic chemicals found in pesticides and gasoline.
- Asbestosis – A lung disease caused by scarring of lung tissue due to asbestos exposure, with symptoms appearing 10-40 years after exposure.
- Asthma – A common lung condition characterized by inflamed airways causing shortness of breath. It can be triggered by various factors, including toxic elements in the workplace.
- Burns – Chemical burns caused by direct contact with hazardous chemicals and other toxic substances.
- Cancer – A common outcome of exposure to over 130 known cancer-causing substances in workplaces.
- Hodgkin's disease – A form of cancer caused by exposure to certain pesticides.
- Mesothelioma – A type of cancer linked almost exclusively to asbestos exposure, occurring 10-40 years after exposure.
- Parkinson's disease – A progressive neurological disease caused by exposure to solvents such as trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene.
- Reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS) – A medical condition characterized by wheezing and shortness of breath often caused by a single exposure to high concentrations of an irritant, such as gas, aerosol, or fumes.
- Silicosis – A lung fibrosis (scar tissue) caused by exposure to silica dust, commonly found in mines, foundries, or glass manufacturing plants.
What are the most common toxic substances?
Numerous hazardous chemicals and toxic substances at construction sites can cause severe medical issues, illnesses, and injuries.
Some of the toxic substances found at construction sites include:
- Asbestos – This mineral was once widely used in construction materials such as cement, insulation, and roof shingles. Asbestos exposure can lead to severe medical conditions, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Therefore, workers who handle or remove asbestos during remodeling projects are particularly at risk.
- Asphalt – Fumes from asphalt used in road paving, siding, and concrete work can cause a range of health problems, including headaches, rashes, fatigue, cough, and even skin cancer.
- Carbon Monoxide – Exposure to this odorless, colorless, flammable gas can lead to headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even death in severe cases.
- Crystalline Silica – This hazardous substance is commonly found in materials such as sand, stone, and concrete. Workers who chip, cut, or grind these materials can inhale crystalline silica, which can result in the deadly lung disease silicosis.
- Formaldehyde – Construction workers exposed to particle board, foam insulations, and plywood may be exposed to deadly amounts of formaldehyde, a carcinogen that can cause cancer and other serious health problems.
- Fuels – Exposure to or inhalation of oil, gas, and other fuels can lead to respiratory problems, skin irritation, and even cancer in some cases.
- Hexavalent Chromium – A hazardous chemical compound often used in electroplating, welding, and chromate painting, exposure to hexavalent chromium can cause lung cancer and other respiratory problems, as well as skin irritation and damage to the eyes and other organs.
- Lead – Construction workers who perform demolition, dry manual sanding, power tool cleaning, spray painting, welding, and torch burning are commonly exposed to lead, which can be absorbed and stored in the body's bones. Over time, lead exposure can cause decreased motor speed, gastrointestinal and reproductive issues, kidney damage, and anemia.
- Mold – Construction workers exposed to mold can develop respiratory problems, allergies, and skin irritation.
- Manganese – Exposure to this chemical element can cause injuries to the nervous system, including tremors, difficulty speaking and walking, Parkinson's-like symptoms, and other neurological damage.
- Mercury – Exposure to this chemical element can lead to neurological damage, kidney damage, and respiratory problems. It is particularly dangerous when inhaled in vapor form.
- Solvents – Construction workers exposed to solvents often used in construction (including dichloromethane (DCM), ethyl acetate, methylene chloride, toluene, and xylene) and usually found in glue and paint thinners may experience headaches, nausea, dizziness, and skin irritation. Long-term exposure can cause liver and kidney damage.
Compensation for toxic exposure on a construction site
If you have been exposed to toxic substances while working at a construction site in New York, you may be able to seek financial compensation for your losses by filing a lawsuit. The success of such cases depends on various factors, including demonstrating evidence of negligence, such as the at-fault party's failure to rectify hazardous working conditions or failure to adhere to standard safety protocols or state/federal regulations.
Legal action can be taken against the employer or another company, including the manufacturer of the hazardous substance or another company working on the same construction site. Lawsuits filed against other companies are commonly known as third-party lawsuits.
It is also essential to consider when the toxic exposure occurred. The deadline for legal action in New York toxic exposure cases is usually three years from the exposure date, known as the statute of limitations. This deadline applies to most toxic tort cases in New York, and it is crucial to seek legal assistance promptly to protect your legal rights.
Contact Keogh Crispi, P.C. today to review your potential legal options
Filing a lawsuit seeking financial compensation for health problems caused by toxic exposure is a complex legal process, and a mistake in this process can jeopardize your chances of obtaining the compensation you deserve. That's why it's essential to seek assistance from an experienced attorney.
At Keogh Crispi, P.C., our dedicated legal team understands how to navigate complex legal matters involving toxic exposure cases on construction sites. We offer a free consultation to help you understand your legal rights and provide the necessary guidance to pursue your case successfully.
Located in Manhattan, our law firm takes pride in helping injured New Yorkers when they need it most. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with a New York construction accident lawyer, and let us help you protect your legal rights.