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When injuries from chemical exposure appear years later

On Behalf of | Aug 12, 2021 | Work Injuries, Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injuries, Workplace Safety |

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to follow strict controls concerning dangerous chemicals in the workplace to protect the employees.  However, if an accident occurs and an employee sustains an injury, they can file a workers’ compensation claim. If the accident resulted from negligence on the employer’s part, the injured party could have the basis for a personal injury suit. A legal consultation can help determine which is the best course of action.

The challenge with chemical exposure is that there may not be a medical diagnosis of the injury until many years later. When this occurs, it may still be possible to file a workers’ compensation claim, despite the typical statute of limitations on workplace injuries.

Statute of limitations

In Minnesota, the statute of limitations for filing a workers’ compensation claim is three years. If the employer fails to make a first report of the injury to the Department of Labor, the timeline increases to six years. However, an individual may not become aware of the damage from chemical exposure until many years later. Fortunately, the discovery rule addresses that situation.

Discovery rule

Because injuries are not always immediately recognizable, the discovery rule says that the time limit does not begin until the individual discovers the damage. In other words, it may not be too late to file a workers’ compensation claim.

Though a workers’ compensation award does not include damages for pain and suffering, it can cover medical bills and loss of wages beginning when the damage is first known.