Lung Damage From Engineered Stone Manufacturing in Colorado (Silicosis)

CALL (512) 246 2224 TO SPEAK WITH SILICOSIS LAWYERS FOR FREE

With the rise of interior decorating shows, thousands of homeowners are lining up to get the latest look at a price point that they can afford.  Engineered stone counters wear very well, are easy to clean, and come in all kinds of different colors and hues.  However, there is a dark side.  Workers in engineered stone manufacturing may be inhaling dangerous amounts of silica dust, which can cause severe lung damage.

If you have worked with engineered stone and are suffering from the symptoms of silicosis, call the attorneys of Zinda Law Group at (512) 246-2224 to discuss your potential claim for free.  If we don’t reach a favorable outcome in your case, you don’t owe us anything.

What is Silicosis?

According to the American Lung Association, silicosis is a lung disease caused by breathing in tiny bits of silica, which is a mineral that is part of sand, rock, and mineral ores such as quartz.  Because of this, it typically affects workers who work in manufacturing, mining, and foundry work.  Awareness of silicosis and its causes is a relatively recent trend, but there is a large population who may be affected. According to the ALA, silicosis causes more than 100 deaths a year, and about 2 million workers remain potentially exposed to workplace silica.

Symptoms

Silicosis affects the body by damaging the lining of the air sacs in the lungs.  This leads to scarring and can potentially lead to progressive massive fibrosis, which is a condition that makes breathing very difficult.  People with acute silicosis experience a wide range of symptoms, including cough, weight loss, fever, tiredness, and chest pain.  Having silicosis also increases the chances that you will develop further medical issues, such as tuberculosis, lung cancer, and chronic bronchitis.

How Does Silicosis Develop?

As mentioned above, silicosis is caused by the inhalation of tiny silica particles, or silica dust.  This dust is a byproduct in places like engineered stone manufacturers, because engineered stone contains high amounts of silica.  In fact, according to NPR, engineered stone typically contains over 90% silica, whereas other options like marble and granite contain less than 45%.  In the process of cutting and crushing the raw material used for engineered stone, this silica is released in the form of dust, and can cover the workplace with the hazardous particles.

How Much Silica Dust Exposure is Required to Cause Silicosis?

Unfortunately, it does not take much to begin to scar the lungs, which will eventually lead to silicosis.  This is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued requirements for workplaces that use silica to keep worker exposures below certain levels.  However, even with these requirements, workers continue to fall ill with the condition.  Symptoms can start to show within just a few weeks of silica dust exposure.

Employer Responsibility for Lung Damage

Silicosis claims can take a wide variety of forms, given the severity of the condition and the circumstances that caused it.  Typically, however, the starting point for an injury caused by a workplace will be a workers' compensation claim.  Workers' compensation is a form of insurance through which an employee's medical costs and lost wages can be covered for an injury that resulted from their line of work.

However, depending on the situation, a silicosis injury may require further action, like a lawsuit against the manufacturer or employer.  For example, if your employer exceeded the limits for silica exposure established by OSHA, then they may be liable for your injuries.  In addition, if a manufacturer of a product used in the production of engineered stone manufacturing failed to give proper warning of the silica content of that product, then they also may be liable.  Each situation is unique and requires a careful analysis of the potential pros and cons of all possible legal action.

Silicosis Compensation

As with most legal claims, there is not one fixed amount that a silicosis sufferer is typically awarded.  A lot will depend on how your particular case of silicosis came about.  However, there are a few common sources of compensation for victims.

  • Medical Costs: Unfortunately, silicosis cannot be cured; it can only be treated. This means that the ongoing medical costs for silicosis patients can be extremely high.  In Colorado, your physician will work with you to determine when you have reached your point of "maximum medical improvement" (MMI), which is the point at which no further medical treatment will improve your condition.  At this point, you may be eligible for compensation based on the permanent impairment of your lungs.
  • Lost Wages: Depending on the severity of your silicosis, you may not be able to work for an extended period of time. If this is the case, then your employer or the manufacturer of the product containing silica may be liable for your lost wages.  This also depends on whether you file a workers’ compensation claim or a civil lawsuit.
  • Pain and Suffering: Aside from the medical costs and lost wages, silicosis can leave you with tremendous amounts of pain and suffering, both emotional and physical. For example, the damage to your lungs may leave you unable to play with your children like you were able to before the disease.  You may not be able to enjoy activities you once did, like hiking or jogging.  Depending on the circumstances surrounding your condition, your employer may be liable for these pain and suffering damages.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Lawsuits involving silicosis can be extremely complex and confusing.  A silicosis lawyer may be able to help you navigate through this difficult time in the following ways:

  • Assessing Your Case: Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your workplace and environment, and how your condition developed, there are a lot of ways to pursue a silicosis claim, and an equally large number of possible outcomes. An attorney who has handled workplace injuries before may be able to assist you in determining what the proper way to navigate your claim is, and what your possible outcomes might be.
  • Advocating for Your Interests: At the end of the day, you are the only person with your best interests at heart. Your employer will likely want to settle your case for as little money as possible.  If there are insurance companies involved, they will also want to pay out as little money as they can.  Zinda Law Group may be able to fight for you and help you pursue the justice and compensation that you deserve.
  • Create a Plan: Once you have hired an attorney, they may be able to help you determine what your best course of action is. As mentioned above, these kinds of claims can become very complicated, but an experienced workplace injury attorney might be able to employ their experience in valuing your case and developing a plan to help you fight for fair compensation.

How to File a Claim for Silicosis

In order to protect your interests and to make sure that you preserve any potential claim that you may have, it is important to complete a few key steps.

1. Contact an Attorney

 As discussed in the previous section, there are several ways in which a lawyer may be able to help you, including evaluating your case, discussing your options, and ultimately, representing you through the duration of your claim or lawsuit.

2. Research

 Once you have hired an attorney, they may be able to begin to gather the information that is relevant to your situation.  This might include things like your medical records, information from your employer regarding the levels of silica in the workplace, or information about the warning labels, or lack thereof, attached to the products containing silica that were used in the engineered stone manufacturing.

3. Settlement Discussions

Typically, the first offer that you receive from an employer or insurance company will be fairly low.  This is because they are businesses, and businesses operate by taking in as much money as possible and paying out as little as possible.  Your attorney may be able to negotiate for a higher settlement by accentuating the strengths of your specific case while minimizing its weaknesses.

4. Go to Trial

The vast majority of lawsuits in America end far before they reach a courtroom in the form of a settlement.  However, in certain circumstances, it may become necessary to go to trial to seek the compensation that you may be entitled to.  In that case, your attorney may develop a trial strategy that suits your specific circumstances.

Call Zinda Law Group Today

Zinda Law Group attorneys understand that silicosis sufferers can be left with severe mental and emotional suffering on top of their physical injuries. You don’t have to face this difficult time alone.  In addition, we believe that injury victims shouldn’t have to worry about being able to afford representation, which is why you pay nothing unless we win your case.  If you have contracted silicosis from engineered stone manufacturing or some other hazardous workplace, contact Zinda Law Group for a free case evaluation by chat, web form, or phone call at 512 246 2224.

Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.