If you suffered smoke inhalation injuries after an industrial accident, refinery explosion, or fire, you should talk about filing a claim or lawsuit with an experienced attorney, like those of the Reiff Law Firm. As an accident victim, you may be entitled to financial compensation for lung injuries, respiratory illnesses, cancer, burns, or other complications from breathing in toxic smoke. Compensation may be available for your medical treatment, the earnings you have lost, your pain and suffering, and other damages.
With over 34 years of experience litigating personal injury cases throughout Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia smoke inhalation injury lawyers at the Reiff Law Firm are ready to provide you with award-winning legal representation. Contact us online to schedule a free legal consultation, or call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 246-9000 to speak with an attorney. We are available 24 hours a day to assist you.
Toxic Chemicals Contained in Smoke
Inhaling any type of smoke is harmful. However, some types of smoke can expose accident victims to particularly dangerous chemicals, depending on the source of the fire.
For example, burning plastics can emit sulfur dioxide or hydrochloric acid, both of which are capable of severely irritating or damaging tissue when inhaled. In addition to hydrochloric acid and sulfur dioxide, other harmful chemicals that can be contained in smoke or fumes include:
- Acid Gas – The term “acid gas” describes any gas containing a combination of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. This combination is so corrosive, even to industrial gas pipelines, that exposure must be strictly limited – and its effects on the human body are even more destructive.
- Aldehydes – The best-known example of an aldehyde is probably formaldehyde. Other aldehydes include tolualdehyde, acetaldehyde, and benzaldehyde.
- Benzene – According to the American Cancer Society, “Benzene is among the 20 most widely used chemicals in the United States.” Benzene has industrial applications in making nylons, pesticides, rubbers, plastics, gasoline, crude oil, and various medications.
- Nitrogen Oxides – Nitrogen oxides are harmful gases released by various sources, such as power stations and some agricultural silos.
- Styrene – Styrene is a colorless, sweet-swelling liquid used in the production of insulation and disposable packaging.
- Toluene – A colorless liquid responsible for the characteristic odor of paint thinner, toluene is also used to manufacture household products like glue and nail polish remover.
Health Problems Caused by Smoke Inhalation
When fires occur, such as oil refinery fires, most of the deaths and injuries are caused not by burns from the flames, but illnesses or internal injuries related to smoke inhalation. Inhaling smoke, which may be unavoidable in a major fire or explosion, is dangerous for two reasons: first, it deprives the brain of oxygen, potentially leading to suffocation or permanent damage to brain cells. Second, the smoke may contain caustic or toxic chemicals, depending on the source of the fire.
Even if the exposure period is brief, breathing in smoke, smog, or fumes may still cause chronic or permanent health problems. Health effects and complications of inhaling smoke may include the following:
- Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)
- Cancer and mesothelioma
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Chronic coughing, hoarseness, or sore throat
- Collapsed lungs
- Dyspnea or tachypnea (irregular breathing)
- Edema (swelling) in the respiratory tract
- Hypoxia (lack of adequate oxygen)
- Internal burn injuries
- Laryngitis (pain and swelling of the larynx or “voice box”)
- Obstructed airways
- Painful lesions in the mouth or respiratory tract
- Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS)
- Respiratory failure
- Wrongful death
Filing a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Exposure to Toxic Smoke in Philadelphia, PA
If you suffered burn injuries, developed cancer or respiratory diseases, or suffered from other complications or health issues after breathing in toxic smoke, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the parties at fault for your injuries. While compensation cannot undo the accident which injured you, it can lighten your financial burden, ensuring that you receive high quality medical care for as long as you require treatment.
It may be possible to recover compensation, or “damages,” for hospitalization, medication, prosthetic devices, medical implants, physical rehabilitation, transportation to and from medical facilities, skin graft surgery, and other surgical procedures. By filing a wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit, compensation may also be recoverable for lost earnings, diminished earning capacity, pain and suffering, loss of consortium (loss of a marital relationship), damage to personal property, funeral expenses, and burial expenses.
Philadelphia Toxic Smoke Inhalation Attorney
Inhaling smoke from a fire or explosion can lead to permanently disabling injuries. The toxic smoke inhalation lawyers of the Reiff Law Firm can fight to hold those responsible accountable. If negligence or carelessness caused the accident which injured you, we will work tirelessly to show that others were at fault for your injuries. For a free legal consultation about filing a smoke inhalation injury claim in Philadelphia, contact the Reiff Law Firm online, or call today at (215) 246-9000.