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Legal Review: Exposed to a Dangerous Chemical — Is It Too Late To Sue?

If you work in or live near a factory that handles dangerous chemicals, exposure to such chemicals can result in illnesses or injuries. Business owners are responsible for ensuring that the chemicals they use at their facilities are used and disposed of correctly to avoid the possibility of inflicting harm on others.

If a premises owner neglects their duty to keep employees and the community safe, they can be held liable for damages resulting from contact with the dangerous chemicals.

If you suffer injuries from exposure to toxic chemicals, you may be eligible to recoup compensation for damages resulting from the harmful exposure. However, compensation does not come automatically. You must file a claim with the at-fault party and at the right time, usually determined by the statute of limitations which is the time-frame in which a claimant can legally sue for damages.

Statute of Limitations and Discovery Rule

Applying the statute of limitation is straightforward for normal accidents such as car accidents, slip and falls, and falls from heights because it runs from the date of suffering the injury. However, injuries suffered from exposure to toxic chemicals may be gradual and could take years to show.

Under such circumstances, the discovery rule comes into play. Under the discovery rule, the statute of limitations runs from the day the claimant is diagnosed with an injury or illness linked to exposure to the dangerous chemical.

Compensation as an Employee

If you suffer injuries as an employee, you are eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation operates on a no-fault basis. That means you could be eligible even when the exposure was partly due to your negligence, for example, failure to follow safety protocol.

Under workers’ compensation, you can only recover economic damages such as lost wages, medical bills, cost of therapy, and prescription medicine. The workers’ compensation claims process is pretty straightforward in states like South Carolina, meaning you can navigate it without an attorney.

However, if the harm resulted from your employer’s intentional conduct, you may need to contact a Columbia personal injury lawyer to help you sue them personally for personal injuries. Under such circumstances, you can recover non-economic damages and even punitive damages.

Compensation for Non Employees

If you live near a factory that handles dangerous chemicals and consequently suffer any kind of harm, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against them. Unlike workers’ compensation coverage which limits recoverable damages to economic damages, you can recoup both economic and non-economic injuries through a personal injury lawsuit. Non-economic injuries include pain and suffering, disfigurement, disability, and psychological pain.

If the exposure affects a large group of people, your lawyer can initiate a case for you as a primary person and then accept other victims in this case. This kind of arrangement is referred to as a class-action lawsuit. Once a settlement is reached, the payout is subdivided among class members depending on damages suffered.

Class action lawsuits can be complicated but are an excellent way of cost-sharing when seeking justice. However, it will require working with an injury attorney that has a record of handling similar cases.

If exposure results in death, beneficiaries of the deceased can file a claim for wrongful death. Recoverable damages in a wrongful death claim resulting from toxic chemical exposure can include loss of a source of livelihood, medical costs, funeral costs, grief, loss of companionship, etc.

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