Workers’ Comp for Smoke Inhalation and Chemical Exposure

Workers Comp For Smoke Inhalation And Chemical Exposure. Smoke Inhalation and Chemical Exposure

Smoke inhalation and chemical exposure is a cause for concern for workers among many industries. Depending on the frequency and quantity, breathing in carbon monoxide, dust, and chemicals can be detrimental to your health.

Employers are expected to take all necessary precautions in providing workers that work with chemicals or around smoke the required training and safety equipment. If an employer does not follow guidelines, this can lead to unsafe working conditions which can affect you, your co-workers, and others.

Symptoms of illness or disability can take 10 to 30 years after exposure to appear. Due to a long time frame, employers, after confronted with a workers’ compensation case, will attempt to prove that an ongoing disability was not due to occupational exposure but other factors, such as smoking. Another factor may be that the victim has not worked for the employer in many years. Workers’ compensation suits are often won despite these circumstances, however.


Many workers develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease because of exposure towards irritants. COPD is a “chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.”[1] Risk factors for COPD include:

  • People with asthma, who are at a higher risk for COPD.
  • Mid to long-term exposure to “chemical fumes, vapors, and dusts” which can “irritate and inflame your lungs.”[2]
  • Exposure to fumes.

Most Common Harmful Chemicals

  • Asbestos
  • Oil
  • Acid
  • Herbicide
  • Pesticide
  • Fumes and exhaust
  • Toxic Powders

Seeking Help

It is important to seek medical attention as soon as you can if you experience adverse symptoms. If you have been treated by a doctor and have reason to believe that you may have been exposed to harmful chemicals, you can contact a chemical exposure lawyer at LIVINGSTON DIMARZIO BROWN, LLP.

Workers’ compensation benefits cover missed wages, medical expenses, and rehabilitation. Even if you are partially or fully at fault for a work-related exposure such as a fire, you can still recover workers’ compensation benefits. The workers’ comp system in New Jersey was designed to protect the worker, regardless of fault.

Industries and Jobs with Smoke Inhalation:

  • Fast food restaurants: Cooks and chefs work over grills, friers and ovens. Bartenders may also breathe in second-hand smoke.[3]
  • Manufacturing: Heavy machinery can spew smoke and harmful gases.
  • Auto body shops: Products used such as spray-on paints and polyurethane.
  • Toll booth operators breathe in fumes from passing vehicles.[4]
  • Transportation workers may inhale diesel exhaust.
  • Firefighters can battle wildfires, which destroy woodland and brush, and fires emanating from buildings.[5]

There is usually a presumption of causality for firefighters. That is, they are given the benefit of the doubt from workers’ compensation insurance companies. The nature of their work makes it hard to argue against the fact that their smoke inhalation symptoms are not work-related.

Industries with Chemical/Particle Inhalation:

  • Death Care Industry: Funeral workers work with chemicals such as formaldehyde, which inhaling, even with proper safety procedures, can lead to lung cancer.
  • Medicine: Using latex can be a must for health-care workers, but this may lead to allergy.
  • Textiles: Upholstery, towels, linens, and clothes are made here. Cotton is ripped apart which releases an extensive amount of dust.
  • Construction: Workers in this industry can be exposed to asbestos, which can lead to mesothelioma.
  • Cleaning Industry: Sanitation workers use cleaning products and disinfectants,
  • Mining: Miners are at risk of developing black lung and silicosis due to a hefty amount of dust exposure. [6]
  • Farming: Farmers can inhale dust and toxins when using chemicals to spray their fields. Farmer’s lung can result from inhaling dust and moldy hay or moldy crops.[7]

Workplace Lawyers Case History

LIVINGSTON DIMARZIO BROWN, LLP has successfully prosecuted cases involving workers exposed to pulmonary irritants, including dust and asbestos, yet were also exposed to first-hand smoke during their lifetime. One such case is as follows:

A longtime plumber was exposed to asbestos and dust during his employ with various contractors. His work around boilers contributed towards his exposure. The worker smoked one pack a day of cigarettes for close to 40 years. Unfortunately, he succumbed to pulmonary fibrosis, hypertension, and respiratory failure. Craig Livingston prosecuted the case on behalf of his widow for the deceased worker’s injuries. The prosecution of the case included a lengthy trial with dozens of subpoenas issued, testimony of witnesses, and depositions. The worker’s widow ended up taking home a $300,000 lump sum settlement.

Why Choose The Workplace Lawyers?

Just because you work in one of these jobs or industries does not mean that you must put up with the risks associated. Workers’ compensation benefits were exclusively set up as a measure of security for workers who suffered injury due to a work-related accident or exposure.

New Jersey law dictates that all employers not covered by federal programs carry workers compensation insurance. Even if an insurer denies your claim, your claim can still be valid.

At LIVINGSTON DIMARZIO BROWN, LLP, we understand how personal injury cases can be devastating to victims and their families. Financial hardship and mental trauma are often the results of injuries. No matter the circumstances, we work with you for representation that you deserve.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by exposure to smoke or chemicals, it may be in your best interest to contact a New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyer. Reach out for a free consultation at LIVINGSTON DIMARZIO BROWN, LLP. Our team of lawyers with over 130 years of collective experience can help you pursue a workers’ compensation claim. If we choose to take on your case, we will only charge you if you win. Give us a call today at (973) 943-4961.

[1] “COPD.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 Apr. 2020,

[2] Ibid.

[3] Awair. “The 8 Worst Jobs for Your Lungs.” Medium, Medium, 5 May 2015,

[4] “Smoke and Byproducts of Burning – Reproductive Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 Apr. 2017,

 [6] Zamosky, Lisa, and Michael Gollust. “13 Worst Jobs for Your Lungs.”, Meredith, 23 Sept. 2019,

[7] “Farmer’s Lung.” Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety,, 25 June 2021, is the website for the workers compensation attorneys firm of Livingston, DiMarzio LLP Our team of attorneys is made up of New Jersey Mesothelioma Lawyers, NJ Workers Comp Lawyers, Employment Lawyers and Certified New Jersey Worker’s Compensation Attorneys.