Silica dust is a workplace hazard for Navy veterans, shipyard workers, stone cutters, and manufacturing workers. Acts like grinding and blasting release small silica particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs, causing serious health problems. Silicosis is preventable but incurable. Veterans Guide offers details on silica dust hazards, who is most at risk, and the option for pursuing a silicosis lawsuit.
Silicosis is a lung disease caused by breathing in tiny amounts of silica dust particles. There’s no cure for silicosis, and it causes serious disability. Ships, in particular, contained large amounts of the material. Thus, many Navy veterans and shipyard workers were exposed to toxic silica dust. Other industries are at risk for exposure, including stone cutters, quarry workers, manufacturing workers, and foundry workers. Veterans Guide can help you assess whether taking legal action might be an option for you.
How Were Veterans Exposed to Silica?
Navy veterans and shipyard workers are among those most frequently exposed to silica. Navy ships used many hazardous materials, among them asbestos and silica.
Silica exposure is similar to asbestos exposure, resulting from activities like ship repair and construction. Asbestos exposure can lead to cancer of the lungs, ovaries, larynx, and mesothelioma—an aggressive cancer affecting the chest and abdomen. Likewise, exposure to silica dust can cause serious health issues, including silicosis, an incurable lung disease.
Navy and shipyard workers often had high exposure to silica dust due to the abrasive blasting cleaning and repair technique they used. Abrasive blasting involves using compressed air to blow sand at rapid speeds.
During blasting, workers are prone to breathe in the small silica dust particles. Because the particles are so small, they can be inhaled deep into the lungs. This can lead to silicosis and other diseases.
Stone Cutters and Silicosis
The hazard also exists in other industries where people use techniques to break apart materials like artificial stone, granite, concrete, and mortar.
The breaking, blasting, and drilling releases crystalline silica particles in the material. When the silica particles are small enough to breathe in, they are called respirable. Stone cutters can experience long-term exposure to silica dust because they release it daily on their job.
Some activities that are high risk for respirable crystalline silica exposure are:
Filing a Silicosis Lawsuit
Silica dust can cause many serious illnesses, including silicosis. Because workers sickened by silica dust exposure often live with serious medical conditions for the rest of their lives, many are taking legal action to hold companies and manufacturers accountable for the harm they’ve endured.
While veterans cannot sue the military for their exposure, they can sue any third parties responsible, such as manufacturers and distributors of products and materials containing silica. There are ongoing lawsuits against silica and stone product manufacturers for their role in exposing workers to the toxic substance.
If you’ve been sickened by silica exposure and wish to pursue a silicosis lawsuit, working with an experienced and skilled attorney is crucial. To get a fair settlement, you must prove your exposure to silica dust, that your illness resulted from it, and that you suffered losses due to your illness.
One of the key elements you’ll need to prove is the identity of the party responsible for your exposure. This means you’ll need to determine where and when the exposure occurred. A knowledgeable and experienced silicosis lawsuit attorney can investigate, identify the defendants, gather evidence, and build your case.
Who Can File a Silicosis Lawsuit?
You have legal options if silica dust has affected your health. You can work with an attorney to file a lawsuit if both of these apply to you:
You were exposed to silica dust in your line of work. For example, if you worked as a stone cutter in a facility that manufactured stone countertops and had repeated exposure over a long period, you may be able to prove exposure.
You later developed an illness connected to silica dust exposure. An example of such an illness is silicosis, which results from scarring of lung tissue. This scarring of the lungs is called pulmonary fibrosis. A medical professional must link your illness to workplace silica dust exposure.
It can take a long time for signs of silicosis to surface. According to the American Lung Association, it can take 10-30 years after your first exposure to silica dust for the illness to develop. Therefore, it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney even if you’ve retired from stone cutting or another job where you had exposure to silica dust.
What Illnesses Are Linked to Silica Exposure?
You also have legal options if you have a different illness because of silica dust exposure. Although silicosis can be one result of breathing in crystalline silica, it can also cause other conditions like the following:
In a lawsuit, a doctor must determine your illness resulted from exposure to silica dust. A lawyer can help gather the medical evidence necessary to support your claim.
What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Silicosis Lawsuit?
A successful lawsuit can compensate you for some of the losses you have experienced because of silicosis or another silica-related illness. While money can’t cure silicosis, it might help you and your family find the support you need to manage the condition.
Treatment for silica dust illnesses might include medication, rehabilitation, and special equipment like oxygen tanks to help with breathing. Insurance might not always cover this treatment. In a lawsuit, you can claim the expenses for your past medical care and what you expect to pay in the future.
A serious medical condition can affect your ability to work. You might have to reduce your hours or retire early. With conditions such as cancer, you might need months off to undergo treatment. You can claim your lost income and loss of future earnings connected to your illness from silica dust.
Silicosis can cause permanent disability. Because there’s no cure for the condition, people with silicosis have to manage its effects. If you are living with a permanent disability because of silicosis or another silica dust illness, you can claim additional compensation.
Pain and suffering
In personal injury lawsuits, the phrase “pain and suffering” is sometimes used to refer to the intangible losses that result from serious injury. A silica-related illness can lead to a painful, debilitating illness. You’re entitled to seek compensation for the pain and suffering you’ve experienced from those responsible.
Loss of quality of life
The effects of a silica dust illness can hamper every aspect of your life. It can affect your work life and your home life. Because of the big role the illness plays in your daily living, you can claim compensation.
Notable Silicosis Lawsuit Settlements
People who have sued for workplace silicosis have reached notable settlements, including the following:
How to File a Silicosis Lawsuit
If you have developed an illness after working with silica dust, you may be entitled to pursue legal action. The team at Veterans Guide is here to help. We can help connect you with professionals who can assess your claim and options going forward.
Contact us today to learn more.
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