California Workers’ Compensation Benefits After a Loved One Has Died From Silicosis
Crystalline silica is one of the most abundant minerals on earth. It can be found in stone, rock, and sand, and is commonly used to make bricks, concrete, mortar, and asphalt.
When power tools are used to cut or grind these materials, tiny particles of silica are released into the air. These tiny particles are called respirable crystalline silica.
Workers who breathe in respirable crystalline silica can develop a disease called silicosis. This disease causes fibrosis or permanent scar tissue in the lungs, which can reduce the lungs’ ability to process oxygen.
Any occupation that involves crushing or drilling rock or concrete, masonry or concrete work, mining, tunneling, sandblasting, or demolition can lead to silica exposure and silicosis.
Symptoms of Silicosis
Symptoms of silicosis include:
- Shortness of breath;
- Chest pains;
- Bluish skin around earlobes or lips; and
- Respiratory failure
Silicosis can be disabling, worsen progressively over time, and can sometimes be fatal. It also increases your risk of developing other lung diseases, such as COPD, tuberculosis, and lung cancer.
California Silicosis Workers’ Compensation Claims
If you were exposed to crystalline silica in the workplace and have been diagnosed with silicosis, you may be entitled to a California workers’ compensation claim. Along with providing compensation for work-related injuries, workers’ compensation in California also covers occupational diseases like silicosis.
The U.S. Department of Labor defines an occupational disease as “an infection or disease that arises naturally and proximately out of employment.” To be considered a compensable workers’ compensation claim, you will need to prove the nature and extent of your exposure to silica.
In other words, you will need to prove that your condition is work-related and due to occupational exposure. This generally means having a physician:
- Perform a thorough and complete investigation of your occupational health history;
- Perform a clinical examination to establish a diagnosis of silicosis; and
- Determine that this diagnosis is work-related
Working with a qualified California workers’ compensation attorney will give you the best chance of maximizing your workers’ compensation claim. An experienced attorney can help you recover all the workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled, including:
- Temporary disability benefits;
- Permanent disability benefits;
- Occupational rehabilitation; and
- Lifelong medical care
- Death Benefits
Also, according to California Labor Code Section 4656, you may be entitled to temporary disability benefits for a longer period than for ordinary workers’ compensation claims.
California Workers’ Compensation Benefits For a Silicosis-related Death
If you are a spouse, child, or another dependent of a worker who died from work-related silicosis in California, you may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation death benefits. These benefits include reasonable burial expenses and up to $320,000 in death benefits, paid out in periodic installments until the amount awarded has been reached. If you have a minor child then you are entitled to an additional “special” death benefit until the youngest child reaches the age of 18. (See Lab. Code, § 4703.5(a).) The amount of this “special” benefit is to be paid in the “same manner and amount as temporary disability indemnity would have been paid to the employee…” (See Lab. Code, § 4703.5(a).). Unless the minor is physically or mentally incapacitated then the death benefit do not stop at 18 but rather continue on.
In addition, if the employer was found by OSHA to have violated certain workplace regulations then you are entitled to an additional 50% of their benefits for a serious and willful case pursuant to Labor Code 4553.
Due to the nature of the disease, a workers’ compensation death benefits claim after a loved one has died from work-related silicosis can be complicated. There are also complex statutes of limitations and time limits involved in a California workers’ compensation death benefits claim. It is, therefore, necessary to hire an attorney to assist you with your claim, and to ensure that your family is treated fairly throughout the workers’ compensation claim process.
Contact an Experienced California Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Our law firm works with some of the leading medical experts and occupational diseases experts to develop the evidence needed for our clients’ workers’ compensation claims. We can help you gather the evidence you need to support your claim, and assist you every step of the way.
Call us today at (562) 901-4664, or visit our contact page to schedule a free, confidential consultation. Strict statutes of limitations apply to all workers’ compensation claims in California. So, if you have any questions, call us immediately.
Christopher Montes de Oca is an experienced personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles. Chris is recognized as a “Super Lawyer Rising Star,” a recognition that only 2.5 percent of lawyers receive, because of the exceptional results he has seen and his dedication to his clients. Chris services clients throughout Los Angeles, including Echo Park, Maywood, Long Beach, Whittier, Glendale, La Mirada, Pico Rivera, Hacienda Heights, and Alhambra. Call him today for a free consultation at (562) 901-4664.