Over the past several months, workers in the booming artificial stone countertop industry have begun filing silicosis lawsuits against employers and manufacturers over their failure to warn employees about the risks associated with silica dust overexposure. Endemic to the “dusty trades”, respirable crystalline silica (RCS) inhalation poses a profound threat to the safety and well-being of unprotected workers who can develop silicosis, lung cancer, and other conditions caused by inhalation of silica dust.
Fortunately, new regulations for RCS levels in the workplace and energetic efforts on the part of state administrations to uncover years of negligence suggest an imminent transformation for stone fabrication workplace safety. Nevertheless, the decades of unmitigated silica dust overexposure have taken their toll, and workers are seeking compensation for the progressive and, ultimately, fatal diseases such as silicosis and lung disease they have developed because of employer irresponsibility.
If you worked in the stone fabrication industry and subsequently developed one of the illnesses connected to silica dust overexposure such as silicosis, consider contacting Dolman Law Group, PA’s experienced stone fabricator silicosis lawyers today.
Table of contents
- Criteria to Qualify for a Silicosis Lawsuit
- Silicosis Litigation from Stone Fabrication Workers Alleges Employer Negligence
- Common Damages in Stone Worker Silicosis Litigation
- Silica Dust Linked to Progressive and Incurable Diseases
- Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Silicosis Lawsuit
Criteria to Qualify for a Silicosis Lawsuit
Each state has its own statutes of limitation which establish a legal deadline after which your claim is no longer eligible in a court of law. Fortunately, most statutes of limitation account for the fact that occupational injuries may not manifest until years after the legal deadline has passed.
This is particularly beneficial for stone workers seeking compensation, given the varying timeline within which silicosis symptoms can develop. In acute cases, silicosis can develop mere months after sustained overexposure. By contrast, chronic silicosis often manifests anywhere from 10 to 30 years after sustained overexposure.
Under these circumstances, the initial medical diagnosis serves as a stand-in for the beginning of the countdown enshrined in the statute of limitation. Additional silicosis lawsuit requirements to satisfy before pursuing a case against your employer or manufacturer include:
- Working in an industry involving silica stone products and silica dust,
- Suffering silica dust overexposure,
- Subsequently developing a condition causally linked to silica dust overexposure from lax workplace standards
Many Hispanic migrant workers in California have developed severe cases of silicosis. It is likely that some may decide to file suit, like Ulbester Rodriguez, who, in 2019, was the subject of haunting NPR reporting which was corroborated by Yahoo! News investigative journalism in 2023.
At Dolman Law, we believe that everyone deserves to have access to legal counsel. If you have any questions about your eligibility to file a silicosis lawsuit as a migrant worker in the United States, consider scheduling a free consultation with our legal team today.
Silicosis Litigation from Stone Fabrication Workers Alleges Employer Negligence
The central allegations contained in the official complaints filed against prominent manufacturers and employers in the stone fabrication industry include a failure to warn about and protect employees from silica dust overexposure. Around the early 2000s, a variety of companies expanded into the American countertop production industry with novel engineered stone, a composite blend of quartz and binding resin.
Tremendously popular for kitchen and bathroom countertops, artificial stone slabs pose serious risks to worker health. Cutting, grinding, sawing, and buffering synthetic stone products results in the production of respirable crystalline silica (RCS). RCS particles are 100 times smaller than a grain of sand and can cause intense pulmonary irritation and inflammation as the silica dust directly enters small air sacs in the lungs (alveoli).
Long-term exposure can easily result in the development of pulmonary scar tissue (fibrosis) and permanently damage organ tissue. Although it is difficult to entirely prevent RCS as a byproduct of industrial production, prominent manufacturers utterly failed even to mitigate the scope of silica dust through the use of:
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Wet sprays
As a result, they jeopardized employee health and opened themselves up to lawsuits challenging their apparent preference for profit over safety.
Common Damages in Stone Worker Silicosis Litigation
The injuries associated with overexposure to silica dust on account of lax workplace protocol are many and generally result in mounting medical expenses and decreasing quality of life. Compensation for damages in personal injury lawsuits is intended to provide recoup losses like lost income, wages, and lower quality of life.
In silicosis litigation, compensation figures are largely calculated by considering both economic and non-economic factors. Silicosis and other silica-caused diseases are progressive and incurable. Consequently, as they worsen in severity, you may find it increasingly more difficult to perform tasks at or even attend work – resulting in lost income just as insurance coverage peters out and treatment costs skyrocket.
As doctor’s appointments and medical bills replace weekday schedules and weekly paychecks, you may experience severe emotional distress and decreased quality of life. Although it can be difficult to determine alone the precise financial figure to which such damages amount, an experienced personal injury attorney will work closely with you to reach an estimation and advocate tirelessly on your behalf.
Silica Dust Linked to Progressive and Incurable Diseases
One of the most egregious consequences of employer and manufacturer negligence in the engineered stone industry workplace is the severe and permanent damage connected to poor safety protections. A well-documented carcinogen, respirable crystalline silica (RCS) can cause diseases that are incurable and inflict irreversible damage in sufferers of long-term exposure.
Silicosis Caused by RCS Exposure
Silicosis is one of the oldest occupational injuries in the modern era. Nevertheless, only recently has the federal government taken steps to implement new silica dust regulations. When artificial stone workers inhale at regular intervals and for extended periods respirable crystalline silica, they run the risk of developing:
- Chronic silicosis
- Accelerated silicosis
- Acute silicosis
All result in the development of pulmonary fibrosis, and more serious cases may even cause progressive massive fibrosis. Seeing as silicosis is a progressive illness, it worsens over time, meaning that its propensity to cause difficulty breathing, serious coughing, weight loss, and fatigue intensifies in spite of medical intervention.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
A 2003 study in Occupational & Environmental Medicine (OEM) finds a probable correlation between silica dust overexposure and COPD, another progressive pulmonary disease that can prove debilitating in long-term sufferers. The researchers argue that the natural bodily response to silica presence in the lungs triggers “pathological changes that may lead to the development of COPD”, whose symptoms may include:
- Tightness in chest
- Weight loss
- Shortness of breath
The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine published an April 2020 study that focuses on the causal “exposure-response relationship” between silica dust overexposure and lung cancer. Researchers conclude that there is a “robust” correlation between even “low exposure levels” of occupational silica dust and lung cancer.
RCS-caused lung cancer can result in:
- Bloody coughs
- Hoarseness of voice
- Shortness of breath
Another disturbing set of illnesses associated with silica dust overexposure include autoimmune diseases like:
Workers in the “dusty trades”, including engineered stone fabrication, are at a substantially higher risk of developing such diseases, a 2012 study discovered.
Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Silicosis Lawsuit
At Dolman Law Group, PA, we believe that employers have an obligation not only to ensure workplace safety but also to inform workers when they are at risk of developing serious illnesses. Unfortunately, manufacturers and employers in the artificial countertop industry abjured a modicum of precaution and now intend to avoid liability – despite having destroyed lives and livelihoods.
Our experienced personal injury attorneys intend to get accountability. Offering free consultations to prospective clients, they can help you understand the strength of your case and the complicated legal landscape governing silicosis litigation. Moreover, our contingency-fee payment plan means you don’t pay for our services unless we successfully resolve your silicosis case.
As you safeguard your health, you deserve to have someone protecting your rights. Although it may be impossible to reverse the permanent damage caused by silica dust overexposure, it is not too late to seek advice, assistance, and, potentially, due compensation. To schedule a free consultation with Dolman Law Group either call our office at (727) 451-6900 or fill out our contact form here on our site.