Occupational exposure to silica dust has been recognized as a health hazard for many years. The increased use of synthetic stone with a higher concentration of silica has prompted a fresh wave of claims from workers who have developed silicosis and other life-threatening illnesses from workplace exposure. As stone workers are filing silicosis lawsuits against their employers for failing to take safety measures to limit exposure to toxic silica dust, the history of silicosis claims is receiving renewed attention.
At Dolman Law Group, our team of personal injury lawyers can help guide you through the claims process to maximize your compensation, which may be more challenging because of fraudulent claims that have undermined the credibility of workers complaining of silicosis. You can reach out to our highly capable team at (866) 481-5430 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Table of contents
- Resurgence of Silicosis During the Last Decade Raises Concerns as Claims Mount
- Past Silicosis Lawsuits May Impact Success of New Stone Worker Silicosis Claims
- Workplace Exposure to Silica Dust Has Been Thoroughly Documented as Harmful
- Why You Should Choose Dolman Law Group to Represent You
- Contact Dolman Law Group For Help With Your Silicosis Lawsuit
Resurgence of Silicosis During the Last Decade Raises Concerns as Claims Mount
Silicosis occurs when tiny silica dust particles, also known as crystalline silica, enter the lungs. Over time, the silica dust particles scar the organs and cause them to grow hard nodules and tough scar tissue, impeding a person’s ability to breathe. It is typically the result of sustained or heavy occupational exposure, but the signs of silicosis may not manifest for years. In the last ten years, the focus of silicosis lawsuits in the U.S. has shifted to stone fabrication workers.
Silicosis has always been a risk for stone cutters, but the current preference for artificial stone countertops has fueled a growing silicosis epidemic. In 2019, a CDC report was released that warned that stone fabricators were at an increased risk of developing silicosis, and additional preventative measures were needed. This was largely attributed to lax safety practices and the greater level of exposure from working with engineered stone. The artificial stone is a combination of quartz shards mixed with resin, and it has a much higher concentration of silica.
More recently, a 2023 study of California stone workers has supported the findings of the CDC report and advocated for stronger protections for vulnerable stone workers, many of whom are young Hispanic men. The new wave of silicosis lawsuits asserts that various employers were negligent because they did not take reasonable precautions to reduce stone workers’ exposure to silica dust from high-concentration quartz countertops on the job. This includes providing wet saws and effective protection equipment like face masks.
Past Silicosis Lawsuits May Impact Success of New Stone Worker Silicosis Claims
Unfortunately, the reputation of silicosis claims took a hit after a surge of illegitimate personal injury lawsuits were filed in Mississippi beginning in 2002. More than 10,000 workers filed claims accusing their employers of failing to maintain safe workplaces, resulting in their silicosis diagnoses. Over the next two years, approximately 10,000 more silicosis lawsuits were filed. The claims were immediately viewed as suspicious, considering the massive spike in cases as compared to prior years and the lack of corresponding changes in industry practices.
The insurance carriers who would have been held liable for plaintiffs’ damages reacted by removing silicosis as a covered condition for new plans, which was unprecedented. Meanwhile, thousands of the silicosis claims were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation under Judge Janis Graham Jack of the Federal District Court in Corpus Christi, Texas. When the silicosis claims were investigated, it turned out that out of 9,083 plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation, 99% of them had been given silicosis diagnoses by the same 9 doctors.
There were other questionable aspects of the claims, like the fact that one doctor ostensibly evaluated 1,239 of the plaintiffs over the span of 3 days. The issue culminated in Judge Jack stating that the silicosis claims were manufactured and lacked merit. In the recent engineered stone worker silicosis lawsuits, evidence strongly supports a causal link between lax safety practices and silicosis in stone workers, but they will still have to overcome the damage done by the fraudulent silicosis claims of the early 2000s.
Workplace Exposure to Silica Dust Has Been Thoroughly Documented as Harmful
Silica dust has been an issue in industries such as mining, agriculture, oil, construction, and maritime. What originally brought public attention to the dangers of occupational silica dust exposure in the U.S. was a massive construction project in Hawk’s Nest, West Virginia in the 1930s. Workers blasted and drilled their way through Gauley Mountain to make a tunnel, sans respiratory protection and with limited use of a wet saw to reduce dust output.
As a result, 764 workers died from acute silicosis and 1,500 others developed the incurable disease. A few years later, this disaster initiated a movement where most states made silicosis eligible for workers' compensation. In the years that followed, only dozens of claims were made and the issues faded. Silicosis reemerged as a concern in the 1970s after oil field workers and sandblasters in particular showed signs of lung damage from inhaling the dust particles.
Since then, silicosis lawsuits have been filed by a variety of workers, but the primary focus has been on sandblasters and workers who handle concrete, until now. In 2019, businesses that cut engineered stone countertops started receiving attention because stone fabricators were developing severe cases of silicosis at much younger ages. Given the fact that the dangers of silica dust have long been understood and experienced across numerous industries, it makes the current employer’s negligence even more egregious.
Why You Should Choose Dolman Law Group to Represent You
To be able to recover compensation for damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and loss of quality of life, you will need to be able to show that your employer did not fulfill their duty of care. Obtaining, analyzing, and presenting evidence of this is best managed by a personal injury lawyer who has demonstrated the ability to negotiate complex claims and maximize their client’s compensation.
At Dolman Law Group, our team of accomplished personal injury lawyers has an established history of excellence, making us the right choice to represent you in your stone worker silicosis lawsuit. Our clients know that they can expect the highest standard of treatment. We will relentlessly pursue maximum compensation for your damages in a stone worker lawsuit.
Contact Dolman Law Group For Help With Your Silicosis Lawsuit
Silicosis is preventable, but too often it costs stone workers their ability to work, afford growing medical bills, and enjoy life. Employers have failed to take the necessary steps to protect stone fabricators from being exposed to dangerous levels of silica dust from cutting and polishing synthetic stone countertops, which has resulted in them developing silicosis decades earlier than average.
Dolman Law Group stands with stone workers who have developed this debilitating disease. Our team will work to offset any negative connotations attached to silicosis lawsuits to prevent them from interfering with your pursuit of a fair settlement. In addition to providing you with insightful legal advice and access to resources, you can also benefit from our years of trial experience if your stone fabricator silicosis lawsuit is taken to court.
At Dolman Law Group, we are equipped to handle the administrative side of filing a silicosis lawsuit as well as negotiate for the compensation you deserve. You can trust our team to have your best interests in mind. To take advantage of a free consultation with one of our stone worker silicosis attorneys, you can reach out to our team at (866) 481-5430 or fill out our online contact form.