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Chemical Exposure Claims

Exposure to toxic chemicals, whether at work, in the home, out in public, or during Commonwealth or ACT Government employment can have severe health impacts. Depending on the nature of the exposure, and the effects it has had on your life, it’s possible that you may have a claim for compensation under Australian law.


Do I have a chemical exposure claim?

If you are suffering the effects of chemical exposure or chemical poisoning, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation. If you have been exposed to harmful chemicals at work, the claim is usually brought about under the WorkCover workers’ compensation legislation.

Assessing whether or not you have a claim is hard without knowing the facts of your situation. There are many things at play that govern whether or not you have a claim.

If you suspect you have been exposed to harmful chemicals and/or have been diagnosed with chemical poisoning, a lawyer will be able to tell if you have a claim after knowing more about you and the circumstances of your case.

What can I claim chemical exposure compensation for?

If you have suffered chemical exposure or chemical poisoning, you may be able to claim for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Hospital expenses
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Travelling expenses
  • Return to work services
  • Paid or unpaid home care
  • Death compensation claims

What you can claim for really depends on your situation, so it’s best to speak to a lawyer who can give you an accurate assessment of your rights.

What is the chemical exposure claims legal process?

The process of making a chemical exposure claim is different in each state. With workplace injuries, there is often a statutory scheme that you must progress through first. In some states that statutory scheme is a no fault scheme and it does not require you to prove that anyone was negligent in causing your injuries. If certain provisions and thresholds are met, workers are then able to move into common law claims. These types of claims will generally require you to establish who was at fault for your injuries.

Chemical exposure and chemical poisoning claims are generally made under personal injury law in Australia. The legal process can be relatively complicated depending on the nature of your claim, however the below image can give you a good indication of how someone moves through the legal process.

Claims Process Diagram

Shine Lawyers are Chemical Exposure Claims experts

Shine Lawyers operate on a No Win No Fee* basis, which means you won’t have to pay our legal services unless we win your claim at the end. As part of our service offering, the first consultation is obligation free, meaning you can find out your rights quickly and easily before progressing anything through the justice system. Get legal advice about your compensation claim today.

*Conditions apply

The video below provides a simple, step-by-step guide to bringing a claim for compensation with Shine Lawyers, so you know what to expect from the legal process.

Superannuation and Disability Insurance

If you are unable to work due to illness or injury you might be entitled to benefits through your superannuation or other insurance policies. We recommend speaking to one of our experts for a quick, obligation-free analysis of your situation to determine your rights and ability to make a claim.

Learn more about Superannuation and Disability Insurance Claims


Our offer to you

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Obligation-free initial consultation to assess your case confidentially

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Claim assessment process where we will explain all of the options available to you

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Common Questions

Chemical poisoning is classed as a condition where the body is exposed to a harmful chemical in an amount that causes ill effects or symptoms, disease, damage to cells or organs.

Symptoms for poisoning due to chemical exposure can vary wildly depending on the nature of the exposure and the chemical in question. Some chemicals like chlorine and phosgene, affect the respiratory system which can produce shortness of breath, wheezing and serious complications like asphyxiation. Whilst other chemicals like nerve agents or venom can affect the nervous system, with symptoms such as paralysis. It really depends on the chemical.

Symptoms can be, but are not limited to:

  • Strange odour on breath
  • Strange odour on clothes or body
  • Strange stains on clothes or body
  • Abdominal pain
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Drooling
  • Chest tightness
  • Pain
  • Sudden behaviour changes
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Joint pain
  • Moodiness
  • Skin irritation
  • Eye irritation
  • Oral irritation
  • Respiratory irritation
  • Tremors
  • Twitching muscles
  • Blurred vision
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Cough
  • Rapid pulse
  • Flushed skin
  • Yellow skin
  • Watery eyes
  • Fever
  • Narrowed pupils
  • Convulsions
  • Unconsciousness

If you are experiencing any discomfort at all and feel as though you may have been exposed to toxic chemicals, seek expert medical help as soon as possible to ensure you get the treatment and care you require. Self-diagnosis is especially hard because the range of toxic chemicals and the various effects they can have on a person varies wildly.

In Australia there are workplace health and safety standards that require businesses to adhere to strict laws. The legal concentration limits for many chemicals in the workplace can be viewed here.

If you believe you have been exposed to toxic chemicals it’s important you follow the correct procedures in your workplace first and foremost. Seeking medical help as early as possible.

To comply with the workplace health and safety regulations, monitoring of workplace contaminant levels for chemicals with exposure standards may be carried out where:

  • There is uncertainty surrounding the levels of exposure in the workplace
  • There is concern that the level of exposure has been exceeded, or
  • If it is necessary to determine whether there is a health risk.

The records of monitoring airborne contaminants must be kept legally for a minimum of 30 years, and must be made available to workers who are exposed.

If you have been exposed to harmful chemicals or are suffering from chemical poisoning, it’s typically the insurance company of the person/ entity at fault that will pay you the compensation. If you were at work when the exposure happened, it’s therefore the insurance company of the business that will be the one to pay you the compensation rather than any individual within the business.

How long a claim for compensation will take depends on a range of factors, such as how long it takes for your injuries to stabilise, how difficult it is to establish liability, along with many other things.

Each chemical exposure claim is different so it’s hard to say exactly how long a claim may take to resolve, typically it can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months for a claim to be resolved. There are exceptions to this though – it just depends on the nature of your case.

There are usually time limits when it comes to workers compensation claims, and these vary from state to state. When it comes to chemical exposure claims the ill effects can take many years to manifest, and as such the law doesn’t necessarily prohibit one from making a claim many years after the initial chemical exposure.

Contact a lawyer to find out your rights and ability to make a claim at your earliest convenience to ensure your opportunity to claim is not lost due to a missed time limit.

It is possible to legally represent yourself when making a compensation claim. Doing so successfully will likely require a thorough understanding of the law, your legal rights and entitlements, and a commitment to actively pursue the case to move it forward.

Most people making chemical exposure compensation legal claims choose not to act for themselves and instead engage an expert compensation lawyer. The best compensation lawyers can provide the knowledge and experience required to help guide a case to a successful outcome.

The costs of making a claim varies from state-to-state. For example, some statutory workers compensation schemes (such as NSW) do not involve any legal costs for the injured worker, regardless of the outcome. It is important that you get legal advice to better understand what costs rules will apply to you.

As part of the Shine Lawyers service offering, all chemical exposure and chemical poisoning claims are undertaken on a No Win No Fee* basis, which means you won’t have to pay our legal fees unless we win the claim at the end.

The legal costs themselves depend on the work required to get you compensation. A lawyer will be able to give you an idea of legal costs once they know more about your situation and the complexity of your case.

*Conditions apply

Shine Lawyers have offices in the following locations across Australia. As part of our service offering, home or hospital appointments can be arranged at your convenience.

Shine Lawyers has expert chemical exposure lawyers that can help you determine your rights and bring forward a claim on your behalf. The below links contain further information regarding your legal options.

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