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Workers' Compensation Newsletter

Exposure to Toxic Substances at Work

A “tort” is defined as behavior that harms an individual, but is not necessarily a criminal act. A toxic tort claim can be brought by an individual who was exposed to and harmed by a toxin due to the conduct of another.

Workers' Compensation and Toxic Torts
Workers' Compensation law compensates workers for harms suffered at work. This may include any one of numerous harmful toxins and substances possibly present, including:

  • Arsenic
  • Asbestos
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Latex
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Toluene

Even if an employee has been exposed to a toxic substance, it must still be proven that the employer had a duty to protect employees from the toxin, and that the employer failed to do so.

Bringing Separate Toxic Tort Claims After Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Workers’ compensation settlements usually relieve the employer from any further liability or obligation to the employee on their claim. Consequently, a toxic tort suit against the employer is typically barred, unless the employee wants to sue the employer for any non-physical injuries resulting from the harmful exposure.

However, a separate product liability lawsuit may be brought against any other individual or entity that may have had some blame in regards to the employee's injury, such as a manufacturer of the toxic substance.

Damages Available for the Victim of Toxic Tort Exposure
After proving a valid toxic tort claim, an injured employee may be able to collect damages such as:

  • Medical expenses
  • Necessary rehabilitation
  • Lost wages, including future lost wages
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering

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