Visitor Question

Liability for disability from toxic chemical exposure at work?

Submitted By: Enrique (Oxnard, CA)

I was injured at work due to Toxic Exposure. Over a period of 4 years I sustained numerous health issues due to the exposure of toxic chemicals. I acquired a workers’ compensation attorney and I was able to seek treatment with a doctor on a lien basis.

My employer has denied everything, even a Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the chemicals I was exposed to, which the doctor requested to help with the treatment. We did some tests and I came out positive for Trycothecene, Benzene, Ethyl Benzene, some pesticides, and other things I cannot even pronounce.

This toxic exposure has caused me to sustain an Occupation Health Injury. After 1 year of being out of work with no proper treatment, and my health condition only getting worse, my employer requested that I return to work.

At the time, about 3 months ago, I was temporarily totally disabled, and was unable to return to work, so I was terminated from my employment. I now have an additional treating physician and pain management doctor that I just began treating with, and they have given me light duty restrictions.

I was terminated for not being able to return to work due to my work related injury. I now have restrictions from my doctor of what I can and cannot do. I can’t do much, due to my limitations. Can I still request to return back to work with work restrictions, even after I was already terminated?

Also, with my restrictions and limitations, there is no way another employer will hire me, especially while filing for workers’ compensation. Shouldn’t my employer work with me? Is there anything else I can do? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Enrique,

It is our policy at not to interfere with the attorney-client relationship. To do so would be inappropriate. Be sure to heed the advice and counsel of your workers’ compensation attorney.

Generally speaking, when a worker sustains an on-the-job injury, workers’ compensation insurance steps in to cover the costs of the injured worker’s medical, chiropractic, dental, and therapy bills, out of pocket expenses, and about 2/3rds of the injured worker’s lost wages. Workers’ comp does not pay for pain and suffering.

When a worker is injured on the job, the worker will first be evaluated by a primary care physician. That physician will decide what type of treatment is required, and if necessary, refer the injured worker to a specialist.

When a physician makes clear to an employer that the worker undergoing treatment is unable to carry on performing his or her specific job duties, the worker maintains his or her right to benefits set out under workers’ compensation.

During the time a worker is being treated for injuries, the employer has the right to hire or transfer another employee to fulfill the job duties of the injured worker.

Unfortunately, unless your attorney disagrees, it is incumbent upon you to seek alternate employment. While it is illegal for an employer to terminate an employee merely because the employee files a worker’s comp claim, it is not illegal to terminate a worker when that worker is unable to return to his or her work duties.

Learn more here: Unsafe Working Conditions and Compensation

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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