The effects of second-hand smoke have been widely publicized over the past few years. The American Lung Association estimates that about 3,000 lung cancer deaths and between 20,000 – 70,000 heart disease deaths each year are attributable to second-hand smoke. What option is available to you if you have been injured by second-hand smoke?
File Suit against Tobacco Companies
One option is to sue the tobacco companies for damages related to your injuries. However, it must be noted that these cases are extremely difficult to win. It is difficult enough to prove that your illness resulted from exposure to smoke if you were a smoker, and much more difficult to prove that link if you are a nonsmoker.
Dangerous Workplace Environment
If your exposure to second-hand smoke occurred in the workplace, you may be able to file a workman’s compensation claim. Another choice is to sue your employer for exposing you to a dangerous work environment.
There have also been several class action lawsuits filed concerning exposure to second-hand smoke. A class action is a lawsuit filed on behalf of numerous plaintiffs. One case that generated quite a bit of publicity and was settled out of court involved flight attendants suing the tobacco industry.
Lawsuit against Homeowner’s Association, Landlord, and Smoking Neighbors
In 2013, a family in Orange County, California, brought a second-hand smoke lawsuit against a condo homeowners association, landlord, and their neighbors who smoked. The family claimed that the neighbors and their guests constantly smoked on their patio, which was adjacent to the family’s condo; the family also alleged that their neighbors smoked on the sidewalks, resulting in the "constant infiltration and presence of second-hand smoke" coming into their condo via windows and a door consisting of a sliding glass. The family further complained that the smoke exacerbated their son’s asthma.
When the family’s complaints met with no response, the family moved from their condo. As a result of their lawsuit, the jury determined that the homeowners association and management company breached their contract with the family, and were negligent. Although the issue of second-hand smoke is not mentioned in the homeowners association’s rules, it is covered under the heading of nuisance, and thus, it interferes with the quiet enjoyment of the residents.
Filing a Complaint of Second-Hand Smoke
If you are being harmed by second-hand smoke, your complaint can be accompanied by a letter from your physician stating that the second-hand smoke is having a negative effect on your health. It is also advisable to document all incidents of your exposure to second-hand smoke, as well as all communications concerning the issue.
If you have been injured by second-hand smoke, you should consider contacting a personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney will be able to assess your situation and advise you on the best course of action. An attorney can also advise you of other programs and government services that can offer you assistance.