Lung injury and silicosis lawyer in San Diego
What is silica?
Silica is a mineral that makes up sand and rocks and is a large component of engineered countertops. It is carcinogenic and can cause silicosis. Workers can be exposed to silica when they are not provided with adequate protective equipment while manufacturing a variety of products, including bricks, countertops, concrete, and tiles. When the silica dust is released into the air, the workers can inhale it. Over time, the particles can cause extensive scarring to develop in the lungs.
Silica has been used in construction for thousands of years because of its abundance. Many people are exposed to silica and develop silicosis. Inhaling the dust can also cause other health problems and several types of cancer.
What is silicosis?
Silicosis is a lung disease that causes nodules and scar tissue to form. It occurs when tiny silica dust particles become lodged in the air sacs of the lungs. This causes damage to the lining and fibrous scarring. Numerous regulations are enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to prevent silica exposure. Despite the laws, however, many employers fail to provide adequate safety equipment to their workers. When workers who have been exposed to silica dust develop silicosis, their employers should be held accountable to pay for their losses.
What are the symptoms of silicosis?
The severity of the symptoms of silicosis will depend on which form of the disease that you have. There are three main types of silicosis, including the following:
- Simple/chronic silicosis
- Accelerated silicosis
- Acute silicosis
The symptoms of simple or chronic silicosis normally appear between 10 and 30 years after the silica exposure. This type impacts the upper lungs and can cause extensive scarring in some people. The symptoms of this disease are similar to the symptoms of COPD and include difficulty breathing. Chronic silicosis can either be simple or complicated. This is distinguished with chest x-rays. Simple silicosis may be asymptomatic or cause shortness of breath. Complicated chronic silicosis may show symptoms of breathing difficulties, a general feeling of malaise, weight loss, and a productive cough.
The symptoms of accelerated silicosis normally appear between five and 10 years after silica exposure. This type of the disease typically occurs to workers who experienced exposures to large amounts of silica in a short period. In this type, the disease progresses much faster than it does in simple or chronic silicosis.
The symptoms of acute silicosis normally appear within 10 years after exposure to high levels of silica dust. This is the most severe form of the disease. The lungs may be very inflamed and fill with fluid. The symptoms include severe breathing difficulties, low blood-oxygen levels, fever, coughing, and severe weight loss.
Diagnosis of silicosis
Doctors may perform imaging of your chest and listen to your lungs if silicosis is suspected. If you are diagnosed with the disease, you will also have a higher risk of developing lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis, and other health conditions. Your lung capacity will diminish over time, meaning that you will eventually need breathing assistance devices and oxygen support to help you breathe.
Claims involving silicosis can be complex. In most cases, the symptoms will not show for years after the exposure. Companies may try to argue that your disease was caused by an intervening event instead of their work environments. Getting help from an experienced lung injury and silicosis lawyer in San Jose might allow you to trace the disease back to your workplace exposure to silica dust to show a causal connection.
All employers in California are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Even though the insurance is available, many companies and workers’ compensation insurance carriers aggressively fight claims involving serious occupational illnesses such as silicosis. When you have the help of an attorney, you may be likelier to recover benefits to compensate you for your medical bills and lost income.
Workers’ compensation benefits may cover all of your medical costs, therapy, rehabilitation, oxygen, home health care costs, and other related expenses. If you are no longer able to work, you can recover benefits payments to replace a portion of the income that you have lost.
In some cases, workers are exposed to silica dust because of the negligence of third parties at the worksite. For example, if a subcontractor is sandblasting at a construction site without protecting workers around the site from silica dust, a worker who subsequently develops silicosis may file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits from the employer and a personal injury lawsuit against the third-party subcontractor.
In some cases, doctors may fail to diagnosis silicosis. This can happen when doctors think that occupational diseases do not happen very often ad do not know the work history of a patient. A failure to diagnose or a delayed diagnosis can cause the condition to worsen much faster because of not getting proper treatment for the disease. When the misdiagnosis was caused by medical negligence, the patient may have a claim against the doctor.
If you believe that you might have silicosis, you should tell your doctor about your work history and your suspicions. This will make it much likelier that you will be properly diagnosed. If you find that you do have this disease, get help from a lung injury and silicosis lawyer in San Diego as soon as possible.
Dealing with insurance companies
Insurance companies commonly try to take advantage of workers who have been diagnosed with silicosis by trying to convince them to accept very low settlement offers. If you accept an unreasonably low offer, you may quickly find that it does not adequately cover your losses. However, you won’t be able to come back to try to recover additional compensation for your losses in the future. You should never accept an initial settlement offer without having an experienced attorney review it. You also should avoid signing medical authorizations or agreeing to provide recorded statements without an attorney.
Contact the San Diego Personal Injury Attorneys today
Silicosis is a devastating disease that can be fatal. If you have been diagnosed with silicosis, you should talk to an experienced attorney at the San Diego Personal Injury Attorneys. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by filling out our online contact form.
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