Occupational asthma is a type of asthma that is caused or worsened by exposure to irritants or allergens in the workplace. These irritants can include chemicals, dust, fumes, and other substances.
Symptoms of occupational asthma are similar to those of other types of asthma and can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Difficulty breathing
In some cases, symptoms may only occur during work hours and improve when the individual is away from work. However, in severe cases, symptoms can persist even outside of work hours.
An occupational asthma lawsuit is a legal action taken by an individual who has developed asthma as a result of exposure to irritants or allergens in the workplace. The lawsuit may be filed against the employer or manufacturer of the substance that caused the asthma, and seeks compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
What Causes Occupational Asthma?
Occupational asthma is caused by exposure to irritants or allergens in the workplace. These irritants can be inhaled or come into contact with the skin and can cause inflammation and narrowing of the airways in the lungs, leading to the symptoms of asthma.
Some of the typical causes of occupational asthma claims include:
- Chemicals: Exposure to chemicals such as isocyanates, acids, and metal salts can cause occupational asthma. These chemicals are often found in the manufacturing and construction industries.
- Dust and particles: Workers in agriculture, woodworking, and textile manufacturing may be exposed to dust and particles that can cause asthma.
- Fumes and gasses: Exposure to fumes and gasses from welding, soldering, and other industrial processes can cause occupational asthma.
- Biologic agents: Some workers may develop asthma as a result of exposure to biologic agents such as animal proteins, enzymes, or molds.
Employers need to identify and control potential hazards in the workplace to prevent occupational asthma. This may involve providing proper protective equipment, improving ventilation, and minimizing exposure to irritants and allergens.
How Does Workplace Air Quality Affect Occupational Asthma?
Workplace air quality is an important factor in the development and exacerbation of occupational asthma. Exposure to poor air quality, including airborne irritants and allergens, can increase the risk of developing occupational asthma and can worsen symptoms in people who already have the condition.
Some of the effects of poor workplace air quality on occupational asthma include:
- Increased inflammation: Exposure to irritants and allergens can trigger an inflammatory response in the airways, leading to the symptoms of occupational asthma.
- Increased airway reactivity: Poor air quality can cause the airways to become more sensitive, leading to increased reactivity to irritants and allergens and making it more difficult to breathe.
- Reduced lung function: Exposure to poor air quality can lead to a decrease in lung function, making it more difficult to breathe and leading to the symptoms of occupational asthma.
Employers can help prevent the development and exacerbation of occupational asthma by improving workplace air quality by providing proper ventilation systems, reducing exposure to irritants and allergens, and encouraging the use of personal protective equipment such as respirators. Regular air quality testing can also help identify potential hazards in the workplace.
Can My Employer Be Held Responsible For My Occupational Asthma?
Employers are legally responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. If an employer fails to provide adequate protection from irritants and allergens in the workplace and an employee develops occupational asthma as a result, the employer may be held liable for the employee’s condition.
To prove liability, the employee must demonstrate that the asthma was caused by workplace exposure and that the employer failed to take reasonable steps to prevent or mitigate the exposure. This may involve providing evidence such as medical records, workplace exposure records, and testimony from medical experts and workplace safety professionals.
If an employer is found liable for an employee’s occupational asthma, the employee may be entitled to work-related asthma compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages related to the condition.
In some cases, occupational asthma workers’ compensation claims may be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance is designed to provide benefits to employees who are injured or become ill as a result of their work, regardless of fault. Workers’ compensation benefits may include payment of medical expenses, wage replacement, and vocational rehabilitation services. However, the availability and amount of compensation will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the laws of the state in which the claim is filed.
Can Occupational Asthma Lead to a Wrongful Death Claim?
Yes, occupational asthma can potentially lead to a wrongful death claim if an employee dies as a result of the condition caused by workplace exposure to irritants or allergens.
A wrongful death claim is a legal action that seeks compensation for the family or dependents of a person who has died as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongful act.
To bring a wrongful death claim in the case of occupational asthma, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the employer’s negligence in failing to provide a safe workplace was a direct cause of the employee’s death. This may involve providing evidence such as medical records, workplace exposure records, and testimony from medical experts and workplace safety professionals.
If a wrongful death claim is successful, the plaintiff may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, funeral expenses, lost income, and loss of companionship or support. The specific damages that may be available will depend on the state’s laws in which the claim is filed.
Consult with an experienced worker’s compensation lawyer who can help evaluate the circumstances of the case and determine whether a wrongful death claim may be appropriate.
Are There Defenses to an Occupational Asthma Claim?
Yes, there are defenses that an employer or insurance company may raise in response to an occupational asthma claim. Some of these defenses include:
- Pre-existing condition: The employer or insurance company may argue that the employee had a pre-existing condition that contributed to their asthma and that workplace exposure was not the sole cause.
- Personal negligence: The employer or insurance company may argue that the employee’s own negligence or failure to follow safety procedures contributed to their asthma.
- Assumption of risk: The employer or insurance company may argue that the employee knew or should have known about the risks of workplace exposure and assumed the risk by continuing to work in that environment.
- Statute of limitations: The employer or insurance company may argue that the claim is barred by the statute of limitations, which sets a time limit on when claims can be filed.
These defenses may not apply in every case, and an experienced worker’s compensation lawyer can help determine the best strategy for responding to these and other defenses. In some cases, these defenses may be overcome by strong medical evidence linking the asthma to workplace exposure or by evidence showing that the employer failed to provide adequate safety measures to protect workers from harmful exposure.
Do I Need An Attorney For A Claim Involving Occupational Asthma?
If you believe that you have developed occupational asthma as a result of workplace exposure to irritants or allergens, it is important to consult with a worker’s compensation lawyer who can advise you on your legal options and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
A worker’s compensation lawyer can help you navigate the legal process involved in filing a claim, gather evidence to support your case, and negotiate with insurance companies and employers to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
Don’t wait to seek legal advice if you believe that your employer may be responsible for your occupational asthma. Contact a worker’s compensation lawyer today to schedule a consultation and learn more about your rights and options.