According to the American Lung Association (ALA), silicosis is a lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica particles. Silica is a hard, unreactive mineral that occurs naturally. It is a common component of soil, sand, rock, and other minerals.
Association with the Construction Industry
Sand and rock are common construction materials, which mean silica is abundant in construction sites. Any activity that produces small particles of rock, sand, and other minerals exposes you to crystalline silica dust. For example, sandblasting to remove paint from building stones releases considerable silica dust into the atmosphere. Other examples include well drilling, tunneling, and laying railroad tracks.
Symptoms of Silicosis
Symptoms of silicosis vary depending on the length and intensity of the exposure to the mineral. Typical symptoms include shortness of breath, fever, fatigue, severe coughing, fever, and others. If you work in the construction industry, and you are experiencing a combination of two or more of these symptoms, then you should have your doctor test you for silicosis.
Note that you can develop silicosis even if you have been exposed to the mineral for only a few weeks. Such short exposure causes acute silicosis. The chronic form of the disease develops after at least ten years of exposure while exposing yourself to silica dust for five to ten years may result in accelerated silicosis.
Grounds for Lawsuits
Because silica is a health hazard, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim if another person's negligence exposes you to the mineral and you develop silicosis. For example, according to Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), construction workers who cannot avoid exposure to silica dust must be given respirators to prevent them from inhaling the mineral. Therefore, if your employer does not provide you with this protective gear, then you may have a claim against him or her for not protecting you as required.
Another party who may be liable for your silicosis disease is the manufacturer of silica products who does not provide adequate warning about the risks of silica exposure. You may also pursue a claim against a safety equipment manufacturer whose products fail to protect you as advertised. Remember, the more respondents you identify, the higher your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.
A personal injury claim for silicosis is likely to be a complicated affair. Don't forget that you may develop the condition after many years of work, and it may be difficult to trace and link your disease to a particular defendant. Therefore, it is essential to work with an experienced lawyer such as one from a place like Denali Law Group. It is best if he or she has handled lawsuits dealing with exposure to hazardous materials.