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Silicosis Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Silica?
- What Types of Injuries are Caused by Silica?
- How is Silicosis Diagnosed?
- How is Silicosis Treated?
- Can Exposure to Silica Cause Tuberculosis?
- What Was Known About Silica And When Did The Companies Know It?
- What Legal Options Are Available To Individuals Injured By Silica?
- If I Don’t Remember How I was Exposed to Silica, What Can I do?
- Trades and Occupations With Silica Exposure?
- What Types of Products Contain Silica?
- What Are The Stages Of The Lawsuit And What Is My Involvement?
- How Do You Prove Which Companies Are Responsible For My Injury?
- Will You File My Case As A Class Action Or As An Individual Lawsuit?
- What If My Loved One Had Died Or Is Too Sick To Speak To An Attorney?
- Do I Have To Pay For The Costs Of My Lawsuit?
- Are There Time Limits For Filing A Legal Claim?
- If I Smoked Cigarettes, Can I Still File A Claim Against The Silica Companies?
- Which Companies Are Sued In Silica Cases?
- What are the names of some of the products that contained silica and the masks used by sandblasters?
- How Can I Find Out If I Should File A Silica Lawsuit?
- Is There Going To Be A Trial In My Lawsuit?
- How Long Will It Take For My Lawsuit To Be Completed?
- How Do I Know That Belluck & Fox Will Treat My Family With Dignity And Give Individual Attention To My Case?
- Can I Contact You On Behalf Of My Father, Husband Or Relative?
1. What is Silica?
Silica is a chemical compound which often occurs in a crystalline form known as “quartz” or sand. Crystalline silica is found in soil, sands, ores, rocks, flint, gravel, slate, diatomaceous earth, concrete, mortar, plaster, refractory materials, clay, limestone, shale, silica flour, bricks, and abrasives, among other natural and man-made substances. Crystalline silica is considered respirable and can be invisible to the naked eye.
2. What Types of Injuries are
Caused by Silica?
Silicosis, lung cancer, tuberculosis, lupus, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis are among the diseases caused by the inhalation of respirable crystalline silica particles. Silicosis is the most common disease caused by breathing silica, and the oldest known occupational lung disease. When crystalline silica particles are inhaled, the human body sends defense mechanisms, called macrophages, to try to destroy the silica particles. However, the silica particles end up destroying the macrophages.
After this happens, the lung tissue develops scarring, called fibrosis or Silicosis. Silicosis is usually found in the upper lobes of the lung. On an x-ray, the scarring appears round, or nodular. Silicosis is incurable and nonreversible. As the scarring increases, shortness of breath and breathing difficulty is common. In extreme cases, death may result. Symptoms of silicosis include cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, and repeated chest illnesses. Silicosis is diagnosed through pulmonary function tests, chest x-rays, and a history of occupational exposure to silica.
There are three types of silicosis: Chronic Silicosis; Acute Silicosis; and Accelerated Silicosis.
Chronic silicosis usually occurs after 10 or more years of exposure to crystalline silica at relatively low concentrations.
Acute silicosis occurs from high exposures and can cause symptoms to develop within in a few weeks or up to 5 years.
Accelerated silicosis results from exposure to high concentrations of crystalline silica and develops 5 to 10 years after the initial exposure.
Chronic silicosis, the most common form of the disease, may go undetected for years in the early stages; in fact, a chest X-ray may not reveal an abnormality until after 15 or 20 years of exposure.
Persons with silicosis are at high risk for developing tuberculosis (TB). Silica is believed to interfere with the body’s immune response to the bacteria that causes TB. Annual skin testing to check for exposure to TB is recommended, and treatment with anti-TB drugs is recommended for persons with a positive skin test.
Recent studies have also linked silica exposure to lung cancer.
3. How is Silicosis
If you are experiencing chronic shortness of breath and were exposed to silica, you should contact your health care provider. Other symptoms of silicosis include fever, cough, weight loss, fatigue, cyanosis (bluish skin) and severe breathing difficulty. Your health care provider will take a careful medical history that includes many questions about your occupational history and other ways you may have been exposed to silica. A physical exam, including a chest x- ay, pulmonary function test and a purified protein derivative (PPD) skin test for tuberculosis, will be performed by your doctor.
4. How is Silicosis treated?
There is no specific treatment for silicosis, although cough suppression medications, bronchodilators, and oxygen may be recommended. Antibiotics may be prescribed for respiratory infections. Other considerations for treatment include smoking cessation and elimination of the source of silica exposure to prevent further worsening of the disease. Lung surgery may also be recommended.
5. Can exposure to Silica
Yes. Persons with silicosis are at high risk for developing tuberculosis (TB). Silica is believed to interfere with the body’s immune response to the bacteria that causes TB. Routine, yearly skin testing to check for exposure to TB, is recommended. Treatment with anti-TB drugs is recommended for persons with a positive skin test.
6. What Was Known About
Silica And When Did The Companies Know It?
Silicosis was identified hundreds of years ago as a disease caused by exposure to silica (sand). In spite of knowing the dangers of the disease, companies sold sand to use in sandblasting and other occupations for decades without warning of the dangers of exposure to silica.
Silicosis is a preventable illness. With proper respiratory protection and adequate safeguards, no one should develop this disease. Unfortunately, many silica companies have failed to protect workers exposed to airborne silica dust.
Silicosis has been a recognized disease for over 400 years.
- In 1917 the United States Public Health Service called attention to the prevalence of silicosis in foundry workers.
- In the 1930s, silicosis became well-known in the United States as scientific and industrial journals had articles discussing the hazards of silica exposure.
- In 1937, the United State Department of Labor held a National Silicosis Conference to discuss exposure to silica and protections for workers, including respirators and ventilation.
- In 1949, England banned the use of crystalline silica sand as an abrasive blasting agent.
- In the early 1970s, NIOSH recommended that sand be replaced by something else as an abrasive for blasting operations and established the 1974 NIOSH Criteria for a Recommended Standard, Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica.
7. What Legal Options Are
Available To Individuals Injured By Silica?
If you have been diagnosed with silicosis, you can bring a legal claim against the manufacturers, sellers, and installers of silica products and the manufacturers of inadequate respiratory equipment. Filing a legal claim can help you address the medical and financial problems that silicosis can cause victims and their families.
If you have been diagnosed with silicosis, you have limited time to file a claim and should contact an attorney about your case. The spouse and family of an injured victim may also be eligible to bring legal claims. To file a claim, contact Belluck & Fox.
Even if you do not recall the precise nature of your exposure to silica or the names of the products to which you were exposed, we use our extensive knowledge of work sites and products to investigate and prosecute your claim. Victims of silicosis and their families should carefully select attorneys who are experienced in product liability litigation. Further, you should hire attorneys who will fully investigate your claim and provide you with individual representation. Belluck & Fox provides fast, professional and personalized legal representation. We will only represent you if we believe that there is a reasonable chance of a successful outcome for you and your family.
8. If I Don’t Remember How I
was Exposed to Silica, What Can I do?
There are many people who suffer from silicosis but can not recall how or where they were exposed to silica. In fact, even your doctor may not be entirely familiar with the wide range of exposures to silica. This is especially true because silica diseases are latent — it can take years for the symptoms and injuries caused by silica to appear.
At Belluck & Fox, we devote a substantial amount of time to reviewing your work and life history to identify possible exposures to silica. In many instances, a person may not be aware that certain products contained silica. In addition, we are familiar with the use and presence of silica at many work sites and factories, including powerhouses, shipyards, schools and large buildings. We can find the witnesses and documents that will help establish your exposure to silica.
Belluck & Fox spends hours researching and investigating each silica case. We also use our substantial experience to help us investigate how you were exposed to silica and the companies responsible for your exposure. Our inventory of cases is limited to clients with serious injuries and we devote significant time and resources to each case.
9. Trades and Occupations
With Silica Exposure?
Click the following link to find a list of trades and occupations with silica exposure.
10. What Types of Products
12. How Do You Prove Which
Companies Are Responsible For My Injury?
As part of our representation, we fully investigate and prosecute each individual case. We will fully interview you and other witnesses, such as your coworkers. We also have a vast library of documents and testimony from and about the companies that made silica products — documents and testimony that we have gathered in other cases. This information can be used in your case. We will also gather additional evidence in your case, including new documents from the silica companies and additional testimony about the products that were used at your worksites.
Belluck & Fox prides itself on our commitment to investigating each case. We handle each case individually. From the initial meeting, we will start our research and investigation of your claims, and we will continue to represent you throughout every phase of your case.
13. Will You File My Case As
A Class Action Or As An Individual Lawsuit?
Each claim that we file is an individual lawsuit. We do not file class actions for silica cases. An individual lawsuit maximizes your opportunity to receive compensation. It also provides us an opportunity to present the unique and compelling aspects of each case. We take great pride in our relationships with our clients, and will represent you as an individual.
14. What If My Loved One Had
Died Or Is Too Sick To Speak To An Attorney?
By the time a person is diagnosed with silicosis or tuberculosis, they are often too ill to participate in their own case. In some cases, your loved one may have passed away before a lawsuit was brought and before they were able to testify on their own behalf.
If an individual is unable to testify, we work closely with family, friends and co-workers to establish the facts we need to successfully prosecute the case. We also have access to a vast array of resources to secure information about the products to which your loved one was exposed.
If the individual has died, we can file a claim through the administrator or the executor of the estate, and also on behalf of the victim’s relatives. If your family member (parent, spouse) has been diagnosed with a silica disease, or died from these illnesses, contact Belluck & Fox for an evaluation of your case.
15. Do I Have To Pay For The
Costs Of My Lawsuit?
If you decide to retain our services, we will work for you and your family on a contingency basis. This means that we do not receive a fee unless we our successful in obtaining settlements or recovering compensation for you and your family. Otherwise, you will not be billed for our services.
While the case is pending, we advance the costs of working on your case. Once the case is completed, the expenses and legal fees in your case are deducted from the money we recover on your behalf, and you and your family receive the remaining money from your settlements.
If you are considering hiring Belluck & Fox to prosecute your claim, one of our attorneys will sit down with you and answer any questions you may have about the contingency agreement. It is important to us that you are fully aware of the details of the contract before we begin to work on your claim. We will give you a copy of the retainer contract so that you may review it and discuss it with us at any time.
16. Are There Time Limits
For Filing A Legal Claim?
There are laws in every state which limit the time for individuals and their families to file claims for silicosis. If you do not file your case within these time limits, you will likely be barred from receiving compensation for your injuries. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with silicosis, it is important that you contact an attorney immediately.
17. If I Smoked Cigarettes,
Can I Still File A Claim Against The Silica
If you smoked in the past or are presently smoking, and have been diagnosed with silicosis, you can still file a claim against the silica companies.
- manufacturers of silica-containing products;
- suppliers that provided the materials to the work site; and,
- companies that made inadequate masks and respirators.
We typically do not sue your employer due to workers’ compensation laws. Instead, we work with you and your family to identify the manufacturers, sellers, distributors, suppliers and contractors that were responsible for your exposure to silica.
Blasting Sands such as:
Glas – Shot
Humble Abrasive FlintHumble SandIndependent
Sandblasting Hoods and Helmets, such as:
20. How Can I Find Out If I
Should File A Silica Lawsuit?
We carefully select our cases in order to devote personal attention to each and every client. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with silicosis, contact Belluck & Fox, and we will respond within 24 hours to promptly evaluate your case. There is no charge for this evaluation. We will only represent you and your family if we believe there is a reasonable likelihood of a successful outcome in your case.
21. Is There Going To Be A
Trial In My Lawsuit?
As with any lawsuit, we make every effort to resolve your case without a trial. In many instances, we are able to fully resolve your case without a trial. However, in some cases, a responsible party will refuse to pay you and your family fair compensation for your injuries, and a trial is necessary to assure that justice is achieved for you and your family. As experienced trial lawyers, Belluck & Fox’s attorneys are fully prepared to prosecute your case from start to finish, including a trial.
From the time we first meet with you, we consider and act upon your wishes and priorities. There are clients who want to have a trial so that their claims are heard by a jury of their peers. There are also clients who, for a variety of reasons, do not prefer a trial, and we work closely with these clients to advise them about their options for resolving their claims without a trial proceeding. At all stages of the case, including the decision regarding whether to proceed to trial, our first priority is you and your family.
22. How Long Will It Take
For My Lawsuit To Be Completed?
As experienced attorneys specializing in silica litigation, we make every effort to advance your case as quickly as possible. If you have been diagnosed with silicosis, we will make every effort to start resolving your case within one year.
23. How Do I Know That
Belluck & Fox Will Treat My Family With Dignity
Individual Attention To My Case?
One of the cornerstones of our practice is that we provide personalized representation to each of our clients. You and family will be working directly with one of our lawyers. We spend significant time investigating and researching each case, and we maintain frequent contact with our clients. You will be able to contact us at home and on weekends, and we will make every effort to respect you and your family’s privacy. We are committed to treating you and your family with respect and deference. We will advise you of your legal rights and obligations at every step of the case, and will find the right balance to help you and your family.
Yes. If your father, husband or other relative has been diagnosed with silicosis, please contact Belluck & Fox. We will work with you to help your family protect your legal rights and receive full and fair compensation for these injuries. We have significant experience working with the families of silica victims. To contact Belluck & Fox, simply fill out our online contact form.