W. Winston Briggs has been specializing in toxic exposure cases for over 30 years. He has worked on cases throughout the entire U.S., fighting for the compensation you deserve after suffering from an injury due to harmful toxins.
Winston successfully handles toxic exposure claims that involve injuries caused by chemical poisons, irritants, gases, smoke, pesticides, motor fuels and more. These types of cases are unique, and therefore, sometimes difficult to prove. However, Winston has a successful track record for settling such cases since 1987.
Toxic materials are substances that can cause an individual harm if it enters the body, and they can so by exposure. The most common route of exposure is inhalation. Other routes include through the skin and ingestion. And, if exposed, can cause one serious health effects.
Exposure to chemicals can occur on the job, in the comfort of your own home or through environmental contamination.
Injuries one can develop include:
- Damage to the eyes or blindness
- Damage to one’s reproductive system
- Scarring of the skin
- Brain damage
- Lung damage
- Damage to the organs
In addition, illnesses these injuries can lead to are:
- RADS (Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Chemically induced asthma
- Lung disease
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Aplastic anemia
The most common ways to be exposed to toxic chemicals
In The Home Outdoors
Through cleaning products, personal care products, and lead paints. With this, the CPA (Consumer Protection Agency) has reported that 150 chemicals might be linked to cancer, mental illness, and birth defects.
The most commonly found toxic chemicals
This involves cancer-causing dust particles, which can be found in a variety of workplace settings. Asbestos was once a common insulation and construction material.
Additional chemicals that can create life-altering injuries are:
- Carbon monoxide
- Sodium dioxide
- Industrial Alcohol
- Polychlorinated Biphenyl
- Sulfur dioxide
- Chlorine dioxide
- Sulfuric acid
- Hydrochloric acid
Exposure can cause immediate effects, but other times it can develop more gradually. Immediate effects include death, dizziness, nausea, difficulty breathing or swallowing, allergies, neurological problems, memory and concentration problems and rashes. When the effects develop slowly, they can result in diseases such as cancer or Parkinson’s. This exposure can occur without an individual realizing that they are absorbing or inhaling a potentially dangerous chemical at home or in the workplace.
The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 established clear guidelines for the handling and disposal of harmful chemicals. When these guidelines are not followed, the health of everyone in the area could be in jeopardy.
Several Occupations are at Risk for Chemical Exposure
There are several occupations that are at a high risk of chemical exposure, such as those who work near chemical plants or in plastic manufacturing. They are at serious risk of inhaling dangerous chemicals that can cause the following injuries:
The term “chemical spill” implies an accidental release of toxic substances. While many spills are caused by tanker rollovers, industrial accidents at factories or train derailments, there are many times when companies have deliberately dumped dangerous chemicals rather than dispose of them properly. When you hire our chemical spill injury law firm, we fully evaluate the cause of the spill, including work or weather conditions and the numerous ways a company may try to hide their responsibility for a dangerous spill. We work hard to ensure that the responsible parties pay for the harm they have caused for your or your loved one.
When Toxic Smoke or Fires Cause Severe Injuries
Chemical fires can cause devastating injuries that change victims’ lives forever. The overall impact of chemical fires can be much more severe than other fires because of the damage that can be done by the toxic smoke. In addition, these fires have the potential to impact people in a much broader area due to the dangerous contaminants that are carried through the air.
If you or a loved one has suffered any type of medical condition after being exposed to a chemical fire, you may have a claim for damages. These are complex legal matters that require the attention of a skilled Atlanta chemical fire injury attorney. Be sure that you have someone with the experience and the commitment to properly handle your case.
Spray Foam Insulation Exposure
Spray foam insulation has become a popular weapon of choice for many builders and homeowner trying to build tight, energy efficient homes. However, it is now recognized that such spray foam insulation can off-gas poisonous and toxic fumes that cause personal injuries to humans. Certain chemicals in these products, including methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) and toluene diisocyanate (TDI), have been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to have toxic properties that are harmful to humans. Many manufacturers, including Demilec and BASF, produce and promote these products.
Injuries Caused by Toxic Exposure to Spray Foam Insulation
Exposure to diisocyanates is known to cause severe skin and breathing problems. Indoor air exposure can also induce neurological symptoms. Polyurethane foam has been known to cause asthma, lung damage and even fatal reactions in people who have been exposed or sensitized to its chemicals. As noted by William Swietlik, co-chair of the EPA’s workshop on spray foam, both open and closed cell foams are made with diisocyanates, among other ingredients, a leading cause of workplace asthma and are a “well known sensitizing toxicant to humans. Once a human becomes sensitized to diisocyonate there may be no safe exposure level”. Hence, once a person is exposed to poison gas from spray foam insulation and becomes sensitized to the same, they may never again be able to live in a property where spray foam insulation has been applied.
How are People Exposed?
To understand how potentially toxic such spray foam insulation can be, occupational health authorities recommend that installers wear personal protective equipment when installing the product. Unprotected workers and occupants are required to leave the building while the foam is being sprayed and not return until all residual vapors are ventilated and all dust particles are cleaned up to safe levels. It is becoming increasingly apparent that persons who live in houses where spray foam insulation has been installed can be physically affected and sensitized to off-gassing from the finished foam product that was applied even many months earlier.
Who is Responsible for Such Injuries?
There are multiple parties who may responsible for personal injuries caused by installation of spray foam insulation. The spray foam manufacturing industry storyline is that “urethanes are non-toxic and only require protection for our operators during installations, but the finished product is completely safe and has no formaldehydes.” Accordingly, when personal injury claims arise associated with use of their product, manufacturers like to point the finger at the mixer or installer of the product. However, companies that are able to purchase and apply these commercial spray foam insulation products are required to have training and be certified by the manufacturer that they are competent to install the product according to manufacturers’ specifications. The problem is that not all employees in every company that installs such products are required to be trained on how to properly apply the product. Hence, manufacturers as well as installers should bear responsibility for such claims. Claims may also be available against the party who either mixed the product during application or the party who is responsible for clean up or ventilation of the product at the project. Architects and builders who recommend the product arguably have responsibility as well. One thing is certain; there will be a lot of finger pointing back and forth between manufacturers, mixers, installers and others in an effort to avoid responsibility for injuries caused by spray foam insulation application. Thus, parties who have been exposed and injured by spray foam insulation need an experienced attorney who knows the claims involved, the mechanisms of the exposure and the potentially responsible parties to hold accountable.
Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS) Lung Injuries
What is RADS?
Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome, also known as “RADS,” involves the development of asthma-like conditions from a single exposure to a respiratory irritant, such as a chemical, vapor, smoke, gas, or fume. RADS results in the development of persistent breathing problems in a previously healthy person within 24 hours of a single exposure to a respiratory irritant. The treatment of RADS is varied but many times involves steroids. Steroids themselves can cause multiple adverse health effects to the human body with prolonged or long-term use.
Dr. Stuart Brooks and his colleagues at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, are credited with identifying RADS as a medical condition and the criteria necessary for its diagnosis. The criteria for a diagnosis of RADS are:
- A documented absence of previous respiratory complaints.
- The onset of symptoms occurs after a single exposure.
- The exposure was to a gas, smoke, fume or vapor with irritant qualities that was present in high concentrations.
- The onset of symptoms occurs within 24 hours of exposure and persists for a minimum of 3 months.
- The symptoms simulate asthma with cough, wheezing and dyspnea.
- Methacholine challenge should be positive.
- Other types of pulmonary disease should be ruled out.
What Causes RADS?
RADS can be caused whenever one is exposed to a chemical, vapor, gas, smoke or fume with irritant qualities. Many RADS cases involve workplace accidents. However, RADS has also been developed from exposures in the home. RADS is almost always reported when the individual is exposed to high concentrations of smoke, gas, or fumes from accidents involving fires, explosions, spills, or unexpected catastrophes such as the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.
What Agents Cause RADS?
Although there is not a definitive list, chemical agents known to cause RADS include:
- Bleaching agents
- Cleaning agents
- Glacial acetic acid
- Hydrochloric acid
- Hydrogen sulfide
- Sodium hydroxide
- Sulfur dioxide
- Sulfuric acid
- Waterproofing agents
Examples of third party companies who can put you at risk for chemical exposure include landscaping, homebuilding and transportation companies. If an accident occurs due to the negligence of one of these companies, you may have a claim for damages.
Occupations where workers are at risk for exposure to harmful toxins are:
- Railroad workers
- Factory workers
- HVAC technicians
- Appliance installers
- Textile Mill workers
- Construction workers
- Transporters of hazardous materials
- And many more
Altogether, workers have the right to a safe workplace. It is required by law for employers to provide their employees with a safe work environment. However, there continue to be countless workers who suffer serious health issues each year. If you believe that your injuries are the result of toxic exposure in the workplace, then you may be entitled to compensation.
Vast Experience in Toxic Exposure Injury Cases
The firm’s senior partner, W. Winston Briggs is widely considered to be one of the best, most experienced toxic exposure lawyers in the country. Mr. Briggs has written articles and spoken on toxic exposure cases all over the United States.
Our firm can help you in an attempt to recover the following damages for your toxic exposure case:
- Physical injuries and loss of life
- Lost wages and income
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation or physical therapy costs
- Pain and suffering
Our vast experience with toxic substance exposure cases has given us a keen insight into the types of injuries that can result from toxic exposure. Recent toxic exposure cases Winston has settled are as follows:
- $275,000 Settlement: This settlement was reached for a man injured by exposure to toxic chemicals (Isocyanates) while he was at work on a construction site.
- $150,000 Settlement: Winston recovered this amount for a man exposed to chlorine dioxide at a paper mill as he was delivering materials to the facility.
- Winston recovered $300,000 for a man exposed to sulfur dioxide at a railroad yard.
What Are Toxic Exposure Claims?
Toxic exposure claims involve injuries, illness, or death caused by exposure to a toxic substance, such as a chemical, vapor, smoke, or gas. Such exposures can cause people to suffer from skin problems such as rashes and hives, respiratory and lung problems, brain injuries, neurological defects, organ failure, tremors, seizures, memory defects, impotence, birth defects, and death. Toxic substances that can cause injury and death to humans include poisons, corrosives, irritants, gases, radioactive materials, smoke, ammonia, cleaning products, pesticides, herbicides, petroleum products, motor fuels, and other substances.
Why are Toxic Exposure Claims Difficult?
Toxic exposure claims (also known as “toxic tort” claims) present some unique and difficult proof problems that do not exist with other types of personal injury claims. Many toxic substances that cause injury to humans are colorless or odorless, so it is sometimes difficult to prove exactly when or how the injury being claimed was caused by the toxic substance because one cannot see the injury occur. Sometimes people are unknowingly exposed to harmful levels of a toxic substance for weeks, months, or even years without realizing that they or their family are suffering adverse health effects from such exposure. Some injuries and illnesses require repeated or prolonged exposures to the toxic substance for illness or injury to become apparent.
Proving that an injury or illness was caused by exposure to a toxic substance can be a difficult and tricky undertaking. There will not be any wrecked vehicles or photographic evidence to offer as proof that the toxic substance cased the injury in question. Instead, proof of a toxic exposure as the cause of an injury requires the testimony of experts.
How to Prove a Toxic Exposure Claim
Proving the right to recover for a toxic exposure injury can be extremely challenging. Toxic tort cases are also expensive. They require competent, experienced representation to succeed. In order to recover, it must first be proved that the injured party was actually exposed to unreasonably dangerous levels of a toxic substance due to the negligence or substandard conduct of a third party. That, in turn, requires proof of the standard of care for application or use of the toxic substance in question, as well as proof that the level of exposure to the toxic substance was harmful or unreasonably dangerous from a scientific or medical standpoint. Such proof cannot be supplied by lay witnesses. It instead must be provided by the testimony of qualified experts such as chemists, toxicologists, medical doctors, or certified industrial hygienists.
Once it is proven that a person has been exposed to unreasonably dangerous levels of a toxic substance, it must then be proven that the injury or illness being claimed was caused by exposure to the toxic substance in question. This must typically be proven through the testimony of a medical doctor or toxicologist. The legal standard of proof that must be met in Georgia is that, to a reasonable degree of medical or scientific probability, the injury or ailments being claimed were caused as a result of exposure to the toxic substance in question.
Call for a Free Consultation
If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with an Atlanta chemical exposure lawyer at W Winston Briggs Law Firm, call (404) 522-1500 today or submit a contact form. We take most cases on a contingency basis, which means that you don’t pay any attorney’s fees unless we win compensation for you. We proudly serve the communities of Alpharetta, Gainesville, Kennesaw, Marietta, Smyrna and the greater metro Atlanta area.
You can reach us by phone at 404-692-6160 or via e-mail. We take most cases on a contingency basis, which means that you don’t pay any attorney’s fees unless we win compensation for you.
Frequently Asked Questions about Toxic Exposure
Who is eligible to sue for toxic exposure?
Any individual injured as the result of toxic exposure can recover damages if they are able to prove that a person or company is at fault for the exposure. If someone dies, the family of the deceased may file a lawsuit.
Who can be held liable if I am the victim of toxic exposure?
There are several potential defendants, depending on the type of harmful toxin and the type of exposure. Potential defendants can include owners of land, homes and apartments, chemical manufacturers, transporters of toxic materials, companies that applied or released the toxic substance, the company you work for (depending on your occupation), and anyone who wrongfully dumps toxins into the ground or water.
Will it be difficult to prove that a harmful toxin caused my injury?
It can certainly be difficult to prove that a particular toxin caused your injury. Especially if you have developed a subtle or slow developing injury or disease. (This can be due to low exposure). Your case can be aided by proof that this toxin was a substantial factor in causing your injury. Additional proof may require the testimony of experts such as chemists, toxicologists, medical doctors, or certified industrial hygienists.
How soon must I bring my toxic exposure case?
This is very important. In Georgia, the statute of limitation period for common law toxic tort actions allows plaintiffs two years from the date the action accrues within which to file their lawsuit. It is best, though, to seek a consultation with an experienced toxic exposure attorney as soon as possible.