Texas Workplace Chemical and Toxic Exposure

Have You Been Exposed to Harmful Chemicals at Work?

Every year, workers are killed by an exposure to toxic chemicals due to the negligence of their employer.

When employers fail to protect their workers, they must be held accountable for the damages that they caused.

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Asbestos and Mesothelioma

In general, mesothelioma is a rare form cancer caused only by an asbestos exposure. The lungs, stomach, heart, and other organs are lined with tissue called mesothelium. Mesothelioma is a tumor of this tissue, which usually starts in the lungs but can spread to other organs as well. Unfortunately, mesothelioma can take up to 40 years to form and is often found when in its advanced stages, increasing the difficulty of treatment.

Symptoms of mesothelioma include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Pain under the rib cage
  • Weight loss
  • Pain and swelling of the abdomen

Treatments exist for the disease, but there is no cure. Annually, 2,597 people die each year due to mesothelioma, and approximately 3,000 others are diagnosed each year.

Another condition that can result from asbestos exposure is asbestosis. Asbestosis is a respiratory disease that can have a severe effect on quality of life. Like mesothelioma, asbestosis symptoms may not occur until many years after asbestos exposure. Symptoms include shortness of breath, lung scarring, loss of appetite, weight loss, dry cough, and chest pain.

There is no cure for asbestosis, and the disease increases the risk of developing lung cancer.

Benzene Exposure

Benzene is a clear, non-corrosive and highly flammable liquid used primarily to make other chemicals and plastics. The hazardous chemical was classified as a carcinogen (known cancer-causing substance) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1980.

Benzene is widely used in the United States and it ranks in the top 20 chemicals for production volume. Unfortunately, workers that are exposed to benzene are at an increased risk of developing life-threatening blood disorders and cancers.

Benzene exposure can occur through inhalation or skin absorption. Short-term, high-level exposure can cause eye and skin irritation, drowsiness, dizziness, unconsciousness, and death. Long-term exposure can increase the risk of blood diseases, such as anemia, and certain blood cancers, especially acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Other blood cancers linked to benzene exposure include:

  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Although some studies have suggested links between benzene and the aforementioned cancers, the evidence is not as strong as the evidence linking the hazardous chemical to AML. In addition, some studies have shown that women may sustain damage to reproductive organs. Women who breathed in high levels of benzene over an extended time suffered from irregular menstrual periods and ovary shrinkage, but it is unknown if it was a direct cause of benzene exposure.

Beryllium Disease

Beryllium is a lightweight, heat-resistant metal that is used in the aerospace, nuclear, and manufacturing industries. It is also present in a number of consumer products including dental appliances, wheel chairs, sports equipment, and electronic devices. Beryllium may be useful in a wide-range of industries and settings, but it is also known to cause chronic lung ailments in workers.

Beryllium is categorized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a Category 1 carcinogen, which deems the chemical cancer causing in humans. Other Category 1 carcinogens include asbestos, benzene, and diesel exhaust. Exposure to beryllium fumes and particles has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer.

When a person is exposed to high levels of beryllium through dust or fumes, they may develop beryllium disease, an ailment that primarily affects the lungs. Beryllium disease has two forms: acute and chronic. The acute form is now rare due to the regulations put forth by workplaces to prevent large quantities of the hazardous chemical from being released into the air. According to the Cleveland Clinic, of those working around beryllium, around 10 percent get sensitized to the metal, and approximately half of those people progress to develop chronic beryllium disease (CBD, or berylliosis).

Beryllium disease may be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms, which mimic those of pneumonia, can sometimes take thirty years or more to appear after exposure. Signs and symptoms of beryllium disease include:

  • Skin rash
  • Weight loss
  • Anorexia
  • Heart disease
  • Heart enlargement
  • Lung cancer

Cancer Among Railroad Workers

A study of 55,000 railroad workers found that workers who operated trains were 40% more likely to develop lung cancer than the general population. The study was able to link the increased cancer risk to diesel exhaust, which contains benzene, a known carcinogen.

Many railroad workers have also been exposed to high levels of asbestos, another known carcinogen. For decades, asbestos was commonly used in sealants, gaskets, brake pads, brake lining, and insulation materials.

Other cancers linked to railroad work include:

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Bone Cancer
  • Colon Cancer
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung Cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • Myelodysplastic Syndrome
  • Skin Cancer

A study of 55,000 railroad workers found that workers who operated trains were 40% more likely to develop lung cancer than the general population. The study was able to link the increased cancer risk to diesel exhaust, which contains benzene, a known carcinogen.

Many railroad workers have also been exposed to high levels of asbestos, another known carcinogen. For decades, asbestos was commonly used in sealants, gaskets, brake pads, brake lining, and insulation materials.

Other cancers linked to railroad work include:

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Bone Cancer
  • Colon Cancer
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung Cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • Myelodysplastic Syndrome
  • Skin Cancer
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Your Chemical & Toxic Exposure Questions Answered

We have straight answers to difficult questions to help you make critical decisions, navigate legal process and help you get justice.

Following an accident, there are always more questions than answers. At Thomas J. Henry, we’re here to answer any questions you have about your injury case.

Texas is unique in that employers are allowed to opt-out of offering workers’ compensation; however, a caveat is that if an employer who does not offer workers’ compensation is determined to be even 1% at fault for an employee’s injuries, they are liable for any and all resulting damages.

Workers’ compensation is a benefit offered by some employers which helps pay for hospital and medical expenses associated with an injury that was sustained on the job. Workers’ compensation may also provide disability payments if you are unable to work following your injury.

While workers’ compensation does cover most injuries, even those caused by the employee’s negligence, it is important to note that there are exclusions. For example, injuries that occur while an employee is intoxicated or under the influence of illegal drugs are not covered by workers’ compensation.

Other instances in which workers’ compensation may not imply include:

  • Self-inflicted injuries
  • Injuries suffered while an employee is committing a crime
  • Injuries sustained by an employee while not on a job
  • Injuries suffered by an employee acting in a manner that violates company policy

Employers often benefit from offering workers’ compensation because it preempts them from being held liable for most on the job injuries. As such, a worker who receives workers’ compensation cannot sue their employer for the injuries they suffered in the workplace.

If you are injured on the job and your employer does not offer workers’ compensation, contact a personal injury attorney immediately.

State law says that any employer who fails to provide workers’ compensation can be held liable for all damages sustained by the employee even if they are only determined to be 1% responsible for causing that employee’s injuries.

Most employers who have opted out of providing workers’ compensation understand this law. Because of that, they may scramble to offer something like workers’ compensation to mitigate their liability. Do not be fooled into signing your rights away. You have no obligation to accept their offer or to see a company-selected doctor, and any offer that comes from such an employer after an injury occurs will be well below what they are actually liable for.

Generally, a construction site will have several different contractors and employers on-site at any given time. Because of this, it can sometimes be difficult to determine who is liable for your injuries. This is why it is a good idea to get in contact with an experienced construction accident attorney. Not only can an attorney help identify all the entities responsible for your accident and injuries, but they can also help you recover compensation from the entities even if your employer has already begun paying out workers’ compensation.

Some instances in which liability may go beyond your employer are:

  • A commercial vehicle operator striking scaffolding, causing fall injuries.
  • Electrocution that occurred at an apartment complex with poorly maintained wires.
  • Injuries caused by a construction worker being exposed to asbestos at a job site.
  • Injuries caused by a defective piece of machinery or equipment.
  • Injuries caused by a co-worker who acted negligently while under the influence of a narcotic or alcohol.

If you have been injured in a workplace accident, there are a few things you can do to help secure workplace compensation as well as strengthen any claim to additional recoveries you may have.

Seek medical attention. First and foremost, you should seek treatment for your injuries. Understanding the extent of your injuries is not only important to make a full recovery, but will also help you gauge how much that recovery is going to cost you. If you do not feel completely comfortable with the company doctor, go to your own physician for a second opinion.

Report your injury. Workplace injuries need to be reported in a timely manner. Also, keep your supervisor or manager up-to-date on any subsequent developments. If your doctor has diagnosed an injury that was not immediately evident at the time of your initial report, let your supervisor know.

Get a written report of the accident. Your employer must take a report of the accident. You are entitled to a copy as well. Do not let your employer deny you a physical copy of your report for your own records.

Identify witnesses. If someone witnessed your accident, get their information. You may need to refer back to their account of the incident later.

Take photos. Take photos of the area, including any tools or equipment that may have played a role in the accident.

Write an account. You will likely be asked to make statements about your claim multiple times. Having a detailed account that was written while the accident was still fresh in your mind can help keep your statements concise and accurate.

Contact an attorney. Even if you plan on going through workers’ compensation, contacting an experienced attorney can help ensure you are receiving a fair amount. Thomas J. Henry offers free consultations to all injured victims. Our attorneys are available 24/7 – seven days a week.

While workers’ compensation does cover most injuries, even those caused by the employee’s negligence, it is important to note that there are exclusions. For example, injuries that occur while an employee is intoxicated or under the influence of illegal drugs are not covered by workers’ compensation.

Other instances in which workers’ compensation may not imply include:

  • Self-inflicted injuries
  • Injuries suffered while an employee is committing a crime
  • Injuries sustained by an employee while not on a job
  • Injuries suffered by an employee acting in a manner that violates company policy

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Real Stories

Mike Phillips

  • PREMISES LIABILITY
  • NECK AND BACK INJURY

When Mike suffered a back injury after falling down broken stairs at an apartment complex, he called Thomas J. Henry. This is his story.

James Cameron

  • 18- WHEELER ACCIDENT
  • NECK AND BACK INJURY

James was on his way to work when his car lost control due to a trucker spilling acid on the road. After suffering neck and back injuries, he called Thomas J. Henry. This is his story.

Zamrye Escamilla

  • 18-Wheeler Accident 

  • Back Injury

Zamyre underwent two back surgeries after being hit by a company vehicle. She chose Thomas J. Henry to represent her in her case. This is her story. 

Recent Results

This is just a small sampling of the results we have obtained for our clients. Please click through to view more verdicts, settlements, and judgments.
Trucking Accident
$50 Million

Net to Client: $27 Million

Expenses: $1.1 Million

Attorney Fees: $21 Million

NECK INJURIES

SPINE & BACK INJURIES

Trucking Accident
$35 Million

Net to Client: $22.2 Million

Expenses: $100 Thousand

Attorney Fees: $12.8 Million

WRONGFUL DEATH

Product Liability
$30.2 Million

Net to Client: $20.1 Million


Expenses: $39.6 Thousand

Attorney Fees: $10.1 Million

SPINE & BACK INJURIES

Premises Liability
$14.8 Million

Net to Client: $6.7 Million

Expenses: $652 Thousand

Attorney Fees: $7.4 Million

TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

Medical Malpractice
$12.7 Million

Net to Client: $10.4 Million

Expenses: $300 Thousand

Attorney Fees: $2 Million

SPINE & BACK INJURIES

Company Vehicle Accident
$10 Million

Net to Client: $5.6 Million

Expenses: $125 Thousand

Attorney Fees: $4.3 Million

NECK INJURIES

SPINE & BACK INJURIES

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San Antonio

1 year ago

Mi abogado muy atento con todo me aludo i explicó muy bien I en la oficina todos muy amables I profesionales muchas gracias por todo

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San Antonio

1 year ago

Super recomendado muy profesionales y rapidos tienen servicio en espanol y mantiene informada todo el tu caso

Javier Elias

Corpus Christi

2 years ago

Primero, si pudiera dar una calificación superior a 5 estrellas, lo haría por el excelente trabajo realizado por Thomas J. Henry y su equipo. Él es un gran representante legal y muy honesto.

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