Despite the gradual decrease in work related incidents involving silica, a naturally occurring material, over the past few decades, workers are sill exposed to this potentially dangerous matter. The inhalation of silica can lead to silicosis, which is an incurable, yet preventable, lung disease. Individuals exposed to enough silica can acquire three forms of the disease: simple chronic, accelerated or acute silicosis. The severity of the disease has a direct impact on silicosis lawsuits and medical records and histories are important to the case. Following are some of the aspects of silicosis lawsuits:
Exposure history: The plaintiff will need to provide a verifiable history of exposure to silica dust. A number of occupations, such as construction workers, miners, or foundry workers, increase the likelihood an employee will be exposed.
Medical history: Previous medical records may be used to confirm the condition did not exist prior to the plaintiff’s entry into the occupation blamed for exposure.
Medical records: Court proceedings will require the submission of medical records, most likely from a pulmonologist, that verify the existence of the disease.
Expert medical testimony: The diagnosis of silicosis is not an exact science. As a result, the plaintiff’s attorney may want to involve an expert medical doctor who specializes in lung diseases.
Liability: The plaintiff is required to prove that the defendant is liable for the damages suffered by the plaintiff.
Negligence: In any personal injury case, the plaintiff must prove the defendant had a duty to exercise care, breached the duty and caused the incident that lead to the injury. In silicosis cases, the defendant can be an employer, manufacturer or seller of a product. The plaintiff may need to file a worker’s compensation claim if the event happened in a workplace. If a manufacturer is allegedly at fault, the plaintiff may also seek punitive damages.