My mother works in a Metal Manufacturing Company and 2 ladies there have been diagnosed with cancer, and one lady recently died, most if not all workers are illegal immigrants they have no idea of their right nor their eligibility for workers comp because they are working through a temp agency. My mother is becoming ill and its picking up symptoms of Metal Fume Fiver even though she wears the protection required, is she or any of the cancer diagnosed workers entitled to anything at all even though they work through a temp agency? Does working illegally affect these people, if they do sue for this?
2 Answers from Attorneys
How long has she worked there? You'd need a doctor to relate her cancer to the job duties, but yes she could pursue work comp and possibly even a lawsuit against the metal company. Call us at (800) 517-1614 if you want to discuss this.
Your mother's legal status in this country has nothing, what ever, to do with her eligibility for benefits under the Illinois Worker's Compensation Act for the Illinois Occupational Diseases Act. That said, it is very difficult to get a causation opinion in such matters. That is to say that it is very difficult to find a qualified forensic toxicologist or other doctor who would be willing and able to testify that there is a relationship between the chemicals to which your mother is exposed and some form of cancer.
At a minimum, it would be necessary for your mother to secure the material safety data sheets for each of the chemicals used, to know and what concentration they are used, to know how much of her skin is exposed, and to know the specific specifications of any respirator which is supplied for her use. You would also want to know whether any of the chemicals are used in combination with one another.
Then, a competent treating physician for a forensic toxicologist would need to render an opinion that exposure to these chemicals contributed to the cause of whatever cancer is affecting these Workers. If the treating doctor is not willing or able to make this determination, you need to find a Worker's Compensation attorney who is willing to spend the money to hire an appropriate expert to review the file. It is a time-consuming and expensive process, especially when you have no idea what the expert will say. The best place to start is with the doctor who is making the diagnosis.
Metal fume fever should be much easier. The condition is primarily caused by the inhalation of zinc oxide. Both OSHA and NIOSH publish details of maximum exposure levels which are permitted. If you know the family of the lady who recently died, you should have her family contact OSHA to inspect the facility for excessive levels of metal oxides and to be certain that the respirators worn by employees are effective for that specific purpose.
Related Questions & Answers
How do I get workmans comp to make my x pay his child support? Asked 9/22/15, 10:59 am in United States Illinois Workers' Compensation Law