Workers Compensation


For Gene Viola, the workplace became toxic when he was diagnosed with Stage I lung cancer. At the time, Gene had never heard of the term Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS). However, Mr. Viola was aware of the adverse health effects of second hand smoke, which is the most common way for referring to ETS. Like Gene Viola, thousands of Americans become ill because of the prolonged exposure to second hand smoke in the workplace. If you have an illness that might be attributed to ETS, you need to consult with an employment law attorney that specializes in handling worker’s compensation cases.

An Overview of ETS

Most health care experts have come to the conclusion that second hand smoke includes the same level of carcinogens that smokers inhale. Because of the health risks of second hand smoke, local, state, and federal government health agencies have outlawed smoking in public spaces, such as places of employment. However, the ban on public smoking is a relatively recent trend, which leaves hundreds of thousands of mostly retired workers struggling to make ends meet because of ETS-related health issues. Extended exposure to second hand smoke not only causes a wide variety of illnesses, it also exacerbates any autoimmune deficiencies.

The Legal Framework of ETS and Worker’s Compensation

The worker’s compensation process rewards victims of ETS, but you need a licensed worker’s compensation lawyer to navigate through the complex law mandated by your state. In fact, ETS-related worker’s compensation cases vary in success depending on the state where you live. Some states have set up a strict set of guidelines to prove second hand smoke has caused significant health issues. On the other hand, other states have created guidelines that make linking ETS and diseases such as cancer an easier case to make. Workers typically must prove that any health issues caused by second hand smoke came from constant exposure to ETS in the workplace.

The Changing Environment for ETS Worker’s Compensation Claims

Second hand smoke claims in worker’s compensation cases have dramatically increased since the banishment of tobacco in public spaces. The increased success rate of litigating ETS cases has resulted from mounting evidence hat second hand smoke is as harmful as the toxins and carcinogens inhaled by smokers. Although the science now aligns in the favor of second hand smoke victims, a new counterpoint has emerged that requires the expertise of an accomplished employment law attorney. A growing number of second hand smoke cases turn on the claims that a victim suffered health issues pertaining to ETS in the workplace. Many defendant attorneys emphasize that a victim of ETS might have suffered from second hand smoke in other environments, such as a bar or restaurant. The counter ETS argument is especially relevant for plaintiffs that suffer from ETS-related illnesses because of past lenient tobacco smoking laws.

How to Prove ETS is Responsible for Your Illness

The success of an ETS-related worker’s compensation case depends on one or more the following factors:

  • The diagnosis of a health care issue that has a direct link to second hand smoke (cancer, heart disease)
  • Medical conformation of the connection between your illness and ETS
  • Your health sensitivity to ETS
  • Little or no exposure to second hand smoke outside of your work environment
  • Prolonged exposure to second hand smoke in the workplace

Each of the five factors that contribute to ETS does not have corresponding concrete data evidence to help you win your case. You need to work with a licensed and experienced employment law attorney that has successfully litigated worker’s compensation cases linked to second hand smoke in the workplace.

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