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Our firm is one of the most well-known in the state for handling occupational disease claims.

Occupational disease claims are different than occupational injury claims that occur when a worker accidentally falls, trips, slips, or has unexpected accident on the job site.  With occupational disease claims, workers develop diseases related to single or repeated exposures to dangerous substances or work circumstances.  Most commonly our firm handles complex workers’ compensation disease claims resulting from exposures to dangerous substances, such as:

  • exposure to asbestos associated with the development of respiratory distress, asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma
    (Please see Practice Area entitled “Asbestosis and Mesothelioma” for more information regarding asbestos-related diseases)
  • exposure to silica associated with the development of silicosis
  • exposure to benzene associated with the development of certain types of blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma
  • exposure to coal tar pitch associated with the development of lung, skin (non-melanoma), bladder, and kidney cancers
  • exposure to mold associated with the development of respiratory diseases, such as asthma, and hypersensitivity
  • exposure to carbon monoxide associated with the development of Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases
  • exposure to other dangerous chemicals, solvents, poisons, dusts, and substances associated with the development of diseases, conditions, and cancers, including lung, blood, bladder, kidney, or skin.

Besides exposure-related disease, our firm also handles disease claims such as

  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • cubital tunnel syndrome
  • tenosynovitis
  • epicondylitis
  • synovitis
  • bursitis
  • welder’s diseases, and
  • many other diseases which are a result of specific jobs, job tasks, or industries that increase your risk, greater than that of the general public, for the development of repetitive diseases and conditions.

Please note that our firm is currently very interested in repetitive disease claims of carpal tunnel syndrome associated with jobs in the manufacturing and processing food factories.  Please see section below “What jobs or industries increase your risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?”

Please do not hesitate to contact our firm if you think you may have been exposed to asbestos, dusts, chemicals, solvents, substances, poisons, or other particles and have developed cancer and/or occupational diseases as a result, or if you have developed a repetitive disease related to your job tasks.  Our office will immediately provide you with a workers’ compensation specialist who will be able to answer your questions, and provide answers on whether you may or may not be entitled to compensation. 

FAQs

What jobs increase your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome?

Our firm has handled a variety of carpal tunnel syndrome claims for injured workers, including claims such as repetitive cutting and processing in meat production plants, repetitive job tasks involving overhead or stationery work tasks which use the same muscle groups and motions repetitively and/or forcefully over the work day, job tasks which involve vibrations or forceful use of the hands, amongst many others.

 

Recently, a report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) found that workers in poultry plants are much more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. To perform the study, NIOSH health experts visited a poultry plant in South Carolina and measured how many of the workers had carpal tunnel syndrome.  The study found that 42% of the workers had carpal tunnel syndrome and that 41% worked jobs that exceeded OSHA limits on repetitive stress activities.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by repetitive stress on the wrist.  Many jobs in poultry processing factories involve repeatedly making the same motion with your hand, which stresses your wrist and hand.  Because these jobs increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, workers in these industries may be able to receive money under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law.

 

Many of the machines are not well-designed for human use, the machine manufacturers may be liable in some instances.

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include pain, numbness, or weakness in the fingers, wrist, or palm.  If you are experiencing these symptoms and worked in a poultry plant or another animal processing plant, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable carpal tunnel syndrome expert who can help determine whether you have carpal tunnel syndrome and what was the cause.

 

Most work-related injuries in North Carolina are governed by the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law.  The law is complicated and has many specific provisions, but in broad terms the law allows you to recover money if you are injured at work and your job placed you at increased risk of suffering the injury you suffered, even if your employer didn’t violate any safety rules.  

If you have carpal tunnel syndrome and worked in a poultry factory or other animal processing factory in North Carolina, you may have a legal claim and be able to receive money for your injury and treatment.  Many workers in animal processing facilities perform repetitive activities that contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.  If you worked in a poultry plant and you believe you may have carpal tunnel syndrome, you can contact the carpal tunnel syndrome attorneys at Wallace & Graham at 800.849.5291 for a free evaluation.

What diseases can I get from welding fumes?

Medical investigations and studies have shown that industrial exposure to welding fumes may be associated with the early onset of a disease called Manganism.

 

Welding rods, electrodes and wires contain substances including manganese, copper, lead and cadmium which can release toxic fumes during welding.

 

Medical research suggests that long-term exposure to welding fumes may cause Parkinson-like symptoms including tremors, rigidity, lack of arm strength, fatigue, headache, muscle cramps, loss of appetite, apathy, insomnia, feelings of weakness and lethargy, speech disturbances, disorientation, loss of memory, impairment of judgment, anxiety, hallucinations, illusions, delusions, abnormal gait, among others.

 

Individuals who were exposed in the workplace or elsewhere to welding rod fumes and who have such symptoms may have legal claims against the manufacturers of welding rods, electrodes, and wires.

 

Wallace & Graham is currently investigating potential claims for damages caused by exposure to welding rod fumes. This exposure may occur during the following work activities:

 

  • Steel-alloy welding
  • Steel melting activities gas metal arc or metal inert gas (MIG) welding
  • Gas metal arc or metal inert gas (MIG) welding
  • Gas tungsten arc or tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding
  • Flux cored arc welding
  • Shielded metal arc welding
  • Brazing, thermal cutting, metal pouring or gauging

What is silica and silicosis?

Silica is a mineral. It is normally found within sand and rock. Silica dust is a common byproduct of construction activity and may be inhaled. Exposure to silica dust is considered hazardous to human health. It is estimated that millions of workers in the United States have been exposed to silica dust. Silica dust can be created by any activity that breaks rocks, concrete, or any other material that contains silica. Silicosis is a lung disease caused by exposure to tiny particles of dust which can get into the lungs. This disease often strikes workers exposed to silica. Silicosis is caused by inhaling silica dust. The lungs are injured by inhaled silica dust resulting in the formation of scar tissue. The lungs will react to long-term exposure to silica by developing scarring. This scarring can lead to a dangerous condition in which it becomes hard to breathe. People suffering from silicosis are also at increased risk of other diseases, such as bronchitis and lung cancer. Working in a dusty environment where silica is present can increase a person's chances of getting silicosis and cancer. Silicosis can occur very slowly and may not be detected by a doctor until decades after the worker’s first exposure to the dust. Some of the symptoms of silica exposure can include shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, and cough and flu-like symptoms. A trained physician may be able to detect and diagnose silicosis through performing a chest x-ray.

What is a successful silicosis case that you have handled?

Our firm has handled claims for silicosis for over 20 years.  Recently, our firm handled the matter of Tobar v. Carolina Quarries, Inc

Mr. Tobar worked for Carolina Quarries for 17 years.  Carolina Quarries is in the business of quarrying granite.  Mr. Tobar’s job at Carolina Quarries was to drill and cut granite blocks. During this employment, he was exposed to a great deal of rock dust.

Mr. Tobar began experiencing shortness of breath and was later diagnosed with silicosis.

Wallace & Graham filed a claim for Mr. Tobar in 2017.  The claim was denied by the employer.

After a hearing in 2018, Mr. Tobar was found to be totally disabled as a result of his silicosis.  He was awarded full benefits.