Workers Compensation Claims & Long-Term Exposure and Illnesses

Not every work injury is a slip and fall or nasty cut from office equipment. Sometimes, work-related injuries develop over an extended period due to chemical exposures.

If you develop a long-term injury from a chemical exposure at work, you can likely claim workers’ compensation benefits.

Proving that your condition results from workplace substances can be challenging work, but Cottrell Law Office can effectively do the job for you. Our attorney, Wesley Cottrell, has more than 32 years of experience and is ready to handle any aspect of your workers’ compensation case so that you can focus on healing.

What Are Common Workplace Chemicals That Can Cause a Long-Term Injury?

Unfortunately, chemicals are everywhere: in our air, water, and everyday objects we touch. You might be able to change your daily routine to reduce the chemical exposure you experience in your personal life. Still, you don’t always have that freedom when your work involves a toxic exposure risk activity. The following chemicals are common in employment settings and can cause the following types of injuries.


Lead poisoning can lead to high blood pressure, sleep troubles, and damage to the reproductive health system, kidneys, and brain. Mechanics, construction workers, jewelry makers, painters, and manufacturers of glass or plastic items are often at higher risk of lead exposure.


Phthalates are common in the food industry because of flooring and packaging. Exposure to phthalates can disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive issues in workers exposed.

Pesticides and Herbicides

Agriculture, fishing, and forestry workers often have higher levels of pesticides and herbicides in their systems. Pesticides can burn the skin, cause respiratory failure, disrupt hormones, cause kidney or heart damage, or cause neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s.

Polyfluoroalkyl Chemicals (PFAS)

PFAS exposure is common among firefighters. These chemicals are in legacy firefighting foams and can cause high cholesterol, testicular or kidney cancer, and changes in liver enzymes.  

Chemical Sterilants

Healthcare workers often experience long-term exposure to chemical sterilants such as vaporized hydrogen peroxide and ethylene oxide (EtO). Sterilant exposure can damage the reproductive system, cause cancer, and cause neurotoxicity.

The above-listed are just a handful of chemical hazards in many workplaces. Speak to us immediately if you have concerns about any chemical substance that may have harmed you on the job.

Your Options Under Workers’ Compensation

If you suffer from an illness or another injury because of a job-related chemical exposure, workers’ compensation claims can help you obtain the care and financial support you deserve. Workers’ compensation provides care and relief to employees who suffer injuries while working. Remember that you do not have to prove fault to receive workers’ compensation benefits in Missouri or Arkansas. 

In Arkansas and Missouri, workers’ compensation benefits include:

  • Medical care, and 
  • Partial wage replacement for a temporary or permanent reduction in earning capacity.

Covered, on-the-job injuries can include the effects of short-term and long-term exposures to chemicals.

If you develop a long-term illness because of chemical exposure, your illness is likely covered by workers’ compensation as an occupational disease. Depending on your state’s law and if you can prove that your work caused it, an occupational disease can be the following:

  • A condition that arose out of and in the course of your work, or
  • A condition that unavoidably resulted or naturally flowed from a work injury.

Employees whose work involves hazardous substances and who can prove that the substances caused their illness have the right to seek wage and healthcare benefits from their employers. Proving the connection between your condition and your work may require: 

  • Medical records, 
  • Expert witness testimony, and 
  • Information from your employer regarding the substances you use at work.

We can obtain the above information and present the best evidence for your claim. 

Can I Sue My Employer for Chemical Exposure?

Likely, no. Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance coverage, and in most work injury cases, the insurance benefits are an employee’s only option for seeking relief from their employer. 

However, you might have the option of suing a non-employee third party who was at fault for your injury or the manufacturer of the chemical or device that caused your injury. Also, employees in Arkansas can sue employers that do not have the required workers’ compensation coverage. We can review your case to determine your claim’s best course of action.

Contact Cottrell Law Office Today

At Cottrell Law Office, we have decades of experience and customize our representation to meet each client’s needs. You are not just another case file or claim document for us—you are an individual who needs our help, and we want to do the best for you. If you need a top-tier advocate for your workers’ compensation claim, call us today or contact us online. 

Author Photo

Wesley Cottrell

Wes Cottrell earned his B.A. from Pittsburg State University in 1981 and his J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1985. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1986, in Missouri in 1987, in Arkansas in 1989, and Oklahoma in 1993. He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.

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