Arkansas Attorneys Who Fight for Victims of Exposure to Harmful Substances and Chemicals
Being exposed to harmful substances or chemicals in the workplace is frightening. You can become very ill if you work in construction, manufacturing, a pharmacy, or other job position that poses you to chemical exposure. And while it may seem like a straightforward issue, toxic chemical exposure short-term or long-term can have life-threatening effects.
Chemicals do not necessarily have a noticeable effect on someone until later. Connecting toxic chemical exposure to a workplace illness is not always clear if a disease or other health issues occur later.
It takes much work to prove workers’ compensation claims relating to exposure to harmful substances or chemicals. At the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, we work closely with you to assemble everything you need to make a credible claim.
What Happens When Arkansas Job-Site Safety Protocols Are Not Followed
You have the right to work in a healthy and safe workplace. If hazardous chemicals are present onsite, your employer must inform you about what toxins are on the premises. The information is often provided in Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
According to the Arkansas Department of Labor Safety Code #12, Public Employees’ Chemical Right to Know Act, it is mandatory that chemical distributors and manufacturers provide information sheets on all hazardous chemicals produced, bought, or otherwise obtained. The regulations apply to any chemical present in the workplace where workers may be exposed to them under normal conditions for use or in a possible emergency.
While the MSDS offers information on various chemicals, it must also provide information about any chemicals workers are exposed to under normal operating conditions or in a possible emergency. This is often the basis of a hazard communication program that includes information, training, MSDS, labeling, and other warnings.
How To Reduce Your Exposure to Toxins
Here are several ways to prevent or reduce your exposure to toxins in the workplace. More can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some of the things you can do include:
- PPE – Personal protective equipment can help reduce exposure to harmful substances. PPE includes protective clothing, ventilators, and masks.
- Control by Administration – Exposure to toxic chemicals can be harnessed by reducing workers’ exposure. For instance, limit access to high-hazard areas, adjust work schedules, and implement preventative maintenance programs.
- Ventilation – Line ventilation systems can reduce the presence of airborne contaminants. The contaminant can be mixed with uncontaminated air or by removing the substance at its source.
- Replacement/Substitution – The risk of problematic exposure affecting workers can be achieved by replacing a current process, material, or type of equipment and using a similar but less hazardous item.
- Isolation – Controlling a hazard by using barriers or limiters between the equipment and a user, such as remote-controlled equipment and machine guards.
Toxic Exposure Cases Are Complicated
Figuring out who is at fault for your injury due to being exposed to a harmful substance or toxic chemical is complicated. Establishing the link between exposure and injury or disease is not always straightforward. It is not always readily apparent who is at fault for your injuries.
There following entities/individuals may be responsible for toxic exposure injuries:
- Property Owners;
- Contractors; and
The most important thing to know in this situation is that you cannot sue your employer for exposure to toxic chemicals. You must file a workers’ compensation claim. Should a third party be involved, your workers’ compensation attorney at the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield can explain how you may be able to sue a third party for negligence, intentional wrongful conduct, breach of warranty, or breach of a duty of care.
Each case is different. Each set of circumstances is different. No two cases are ever alike, and to pursue a successful workers’ compensation claim, it is best to consult with a skilled workers’ compensation attorney.
Bring our workers’ compensation attorneys all your questions, and we can outline your options. Collecting workers’ compensation can be a challenge, and that is why we are with you every step of the way during your claim.
How To File an Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Claim for Exposure to Chemicals
Here are the steps to file an Arkansas workers’ compensation claim for being exposed to a harmful substance or chemical(s):
- Tell your employer immediately or as soon as you can. Advise them on what led to your illness.
- Fill out an N-form outlining the history of your illness, the day you were informed of a toxic chemical exposure illness, where you were working while exposed to poisonous chemicals, and the names of other workers who have also been exposed to dangerous chemicals and have suffered severe illnesses.
- Keep a copy of everything relating to your diagnosis and any forms you sign. Workers’ compensation insurance companies must provide an injured worker with both document pages.
- Now, the employer fills out a First Report Injury and sends it to the AWCC and the insurance company. Make sure you tell your employer about your illness within 30 days, or your claim may be denied.
- If there are any disputes relating to the medical exam or findings, attempt to resolve them in a friendly manner with your employer or the insurance company. Get a second opinion or have your medical results reviewed by a third party. Most importantly, follow all doctor’s orders to the letter. Failing to do so could mean your benefits being denied.
- It is critical to file the correct forms. This is tricky, as several must be filled out accurately. It’s complicated, confusing and frustrating, and deadline-oriented. That’s why the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield help you fill out those forms correctly when you talk to them about your case.
- Some forms include, but are not limited to, Form N – Notice to Employer, Form C – Claim for Compensation, Form D – Death or Permanent Total Disability Case, and Form L – Lump Sum Payment. The various forms determine which benefit you are entitled to and how you may receive them. Since you may be eligible for multiple benefits, review them with your workers’ compensation attorney before filing.
- Do not assume your employer is going to file a claim for you. Just because your hand in a Notice of Injury does not mean the employer is handling things. Make sure you file the proper claim forms for compensation yourself. Once you have found out about your illness due to exposure to harmful substances or chemicals, do not wait to file a claim.
- While your case is being handled, you may have many chances to settle, but do not do this unless you speak to your attorney first. This process may end up with you in mediation with the insurance company. This is because Arkansas mandates parties to mediate before the case goes to a hearing. Go to every meeting and settlement discussion and hearing about aiming for the best outcome.
- If a settlement is reached at mediation, your workers’ compensation attorney drafts an agreement outlining the terms. The AWCC must approve all settlements.
- Claim denied? You have the right to appeal. Get in touch with the insurance company for a detailed explanation of why your claim was denied. Start compiling evidence to the contrary and crafting an argument rebutting the denial. Your workers’ compensation attorney at the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield can assist you. Being denied and disputing that denial may avoid a formal appeal.
- If you cannot resolve your claim at the initial appeal stage, you will file a formal claim. Your attorney builds your case, fills and files all required forms, and is with you until the claim is settled.
Contact the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield Today
Not sure you have a case? Not sure what to do to file a workers’ compensation case for exposure to harmful substances or chemicals? Reach out to the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield by calling (479) 361-3575. Our dedicated team of workers’ compensation attorneys is here to help.
Call us today for a free initial consultation and to find out what you can expect should you file a claim for exposure to harmful substances or chemicals workers’ compensation claim. We know you have questions, and we can answer them for you. The Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield is just one quick call away: (479) 361-3575.