A diagnosis of cancer scares the hell out of everyone. We understand that.
There are no easy answers and proving your cancer was caused by exposures at work requires that you take an active role in gathering information. There is a lot that you need to do for us to evaluate your claim.
Many people call us for help. In a toxic cancer lawsuit, my job as a lawyer is to explain what you need to gather or have your co-workers gather in order to prove a case for you. There is a lot of work ahead of you.
That’s why I have written this article, laying out what needs to be done. Once you can answer our questions we will be able to intelligently respond and hopefully provided informed recommendations.
We have extensive experience in cancers caused by toxic chemicals and have shared our knowledge with the public in these articles.
We are the “right” lawyers for your loss. You can be confident that we can provide the experience and the expertise that is needed. Below are credentials that confirm our work and record as specialists in serious personal injury lawsuits. My partner Nina was awarded San Francisco Trial Lawyer of the Year and this past December as Santa Clara County Trial Lawyer of the year. We both are SuperLawyers and have “superb” ratings from AVVO ratings.
In short, we are one of the top resources in the United States on cancers caused by toxic chemicals and a leader in representing people injured by toxic chemicals.
I have had many years of experience in toxic cancer cases as my articles and notes on my website show.
According to the New York Times “The issue of toxic hazards at work went national nearly 20 years ago, when former employees brought more than 200 lawsuits against IBM, accusing it of having concealed knowledge that it was exposing them to carcinogenic chemicals. Ultimately, IBM settled the suits, with the details sealed.”
That quote from the NY Times 4/10/17 describes my work with colleagues in major toxic cases for employees of IBM, National Semiconductor, United Technologies and other electronic manufacturers. I am glad to have been able to give you here an overview of what you are up against based on my experience in representing hundreds of survivors of on-the-job toxic chemical exposures. The results for electronic workers, including IBM, were confidential or what I call “gagged” settlements which preclude me from telling you how much we collected for our clients.
We know of no one else in California with our record, so you have come to the “right” lawyers. Defendants place us in the top tier of plaintiffs’ lawyers and expect that they will have to pay full damages to our clients because we are ready, creative, hire great experts and know how to prove the lifetime impact of very serious injuries. The hallmark of our practice is making a difference for our clients and providing the highest level of legal care. That is well captured in our website video.
Toxic tort claims are not simple. In fact, they are the most difficult of the defective product cases. That’s because in most cases the amount of chemicals that cause cancer are minute. The evidence commonly involves discussions of parts per million in air, which is why evidence of inhalation and direct dermal exposure is critically important and valuable. Repeated soaked clothing is important since it serves as a bandage holding promoting skin absorption and should be carefully reported to your treating doctors.
If you have a common familial cancer the probability of proving it was due to your employment is very low. Drs. Lichtenstein et al who studied 44,788 pairs of twins listed in the Swedish, Danish, and Finnish twin registries conducted a matched pair study. That is the most reliable statistical method. His team found the most significant increase in cancer was in the twins of affected persons for stomach, colorectal, lung, breast, and prostate cancer. Genetic factors were statistically significant for prostate cancer, in which 42 percent of the risk is attributable to heredity, for colorectal cancer in which 35 percent may be due to genes and for breast cancer in which 27 percent of the risk can be explained by family history. Read my summary of his findings. The real significance of this research is that aside from a handful of cancers that are likely genetic in origin, the overwhelming cause of cancer is environmental exposure. That’s important.
If your exposure occurred at work, you must have a workers’ compensation attorney and file a workers’ compensation claim. You cannot sue your employer. In every on-the-job toxic tort cases I have prosecuted the employer was subject of a workers’ comp action. The hazard here is that with the filing of the comp claim you start the clock running on your third-party case against the producer of the chemical.
In your workers’ compensation case your lawyer can obtain an order accessing your workplace to conduct an inspection. The first and foremost rule in all personal injury litigation is to immediately capture the evidence. See my article on that topic written in the 1980s. That is the first order of business.
In toxic exposure cases on-the-job you need a prompt inspection by an industrial hygienist to identify residual chemicals in air filters and on surfaces. That is because your major hurdle is proving exposure and dose, especially since OSHA, NIOSH and ACGIH all provide for “safe” exposure levels, i.e. PEL, TWA and TLV.
The only viable defendants whom you can sue are the manufacturers and distributors of specific chemical products by name and identifying numbers and you must be able to prove that the sellers’ safety data sheets failed to warn that the product contained levels of carcinogens identified by IARC, ATSDR, Cal Prop 29, Cal OSHA and California Department of Toxic Substances Control in excess of allowed exposures.
Collect the safety data sheets that are available at your workplace and photograph the labels of containers with identifying information.
That will identify the products, but you have to do more.
You will have to be able to prove more than were you just exposed to a toxic chemical.
Courts have been clear that “a plaintiff must demonstrate the levels of exposure that are hazardous to human beings generally as well as the plaintiff’s actual level of exposure to the defendant’s toxic substance before he or she may recover. This rules is commonly referred to as general and specific causation.
If you suffered exposure to a mixture of chemicals, identifying the specific product is extremely difficult, bordering on hopeless. Mixtures are dangerous because they often potentiate the hazard exponentially. Instead of 1 and making a strength of 2, an exponential reaction can make 1 and 1 equal to a strength of 1000.
Exposures to mixtures may make for an excellent workers’ compensation case but not at all helpful in proving a third-party case against a specific manufacturer of a specific product that contained cancer causing chemicals. Toxicology data rarely tests mixtures. Individual chemicals are evaluated for carcinogenicity, but not mixtures and there lies a critical problem.
Once you have collected this data, including verification that the chemicals you were exposed to are carcinogens, normally provided by a medical toxicologist or spot-on literature, the next important step is to have a properly qualified medical doctor provide a specific diagnosis of a cancer that is well known to be associated with specific cancer. If you don’t have that you are facing a very uphill battle. A top choice is Robert Harrison, the very highly regarded Chief of Occupational Medicine at the University of California San Francisco who is well versed in the dynamics and seriousness of toxic exposures to carcinogens.
Under California law you have two years from the date your doctors told you that your cancer was probably caused by chemical exposure to file a lawsuit for personal injuries.
But if you don’t settle and you file one day late, you automatically lose as a matter of law, even if you have a meritorious claim against a defendant or insurance company that can readily respond in damages. You must file on or before the second anniversary of your injury. California’s statute of limitations bars any claim that is filed after the two- year deadline.
If you have questions about your workplace exposure causing your cancer, please email answers to each of these questions. Provide as much specificity as possible. Send to email@example.com.
- Your full name, street address, telephone and email address.
- Date of birth and age.
- What was your work? Who was your employer? Where? During what years?
- What is your specific cancer? Location? And stage?
- Who are your medical team care providers? Hospital or clinic. City and state.
- Dates of surgery, chemo therapy, or radiation?
- When were you first diagnosed?
- Has any doctor told you that your cancer is due to an exposure at work?
- If so, when did that happen?
- What were you told?
- Have you filed a workers’ compensation claim for your cancer?
- If so, what is the status of that claim?
- Do you have a workers’ compensation attorney? Name, address, phone and email.
- What is the specific carcinogen suspected to have caused your cancer?
- What is the name of the medical doctor and specialty of the doctor who told you your cancer was caused by chemical exposure?
- Are there any co-workers with the same or similar cancers?
- What scientific literature have you found that supports your claim.
- Provide photos of containers identifying the chemical.
- Provide copies of safety data sheets for the products.
Once we receive your responses to these question we hopefully will be able to make recommendations. Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. The more complete your responses the better we can help.
“We don’t handle cases . . . . We represent people.” ®
ALEXANDER LAW GROUP, LLP
99 Almaden Blvd, Suite 700, San Jose 95113
Outstanding Credentials Benefit our Clients
- Rated 10/10 “superb” by Avvo.com an independent review
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- Best Lawyers – national recognition
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- Esteemed Lawyers of America, a peer selected honor
- U.S. News Best Law Firms in the United States
- Top 100 California Lawyers, American Trial Lawyers Association
- Northern California “Super Lawyer”
- Street Fighter of the Year statewide twice honored nominee
- Leading Lawyer, San Jose Magazine
- Million Dollar Advocates Forum Roundtable
- Recognized Trial Lawyer by Consumer Attorneys of California
- Santa Clara County Trial Lawyer of the Year
- First “Man of the Year” by The Women’s Fund
- Distinguished Humanitarian Award, Bnai Zion Foundation
- Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition Award for Community Service
- Santa Clara School of Law Community Law Center Award
- Pro Bono Award Santa Clara Center for Occupational Safety
- Santa Clara County Youth Commission Medal
- Who’s Who in California
- Who’s Who in American Law
- First molested child verdict in Santa Clara County 1984
- Served as President Santa Clara County Bar Association
- Served as Governor The State Bar of California
- Founding Officer California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
- Served as Governor and Vice President California Consumer Attorneys
- Owens-Illinois Scholar, Ohio Wesleyan University
- National Honor Scholar, The Law School, University of Chicago
- Author of 1,300 articles and blogs, including 5 peer reviewed law review articles
Representative Results* By Alexander Law Group – Respected by Defendants
$79,860,000 trial verdict for defective surgical stapler. Largest defective product verdict in California.
$28,000,000 judgment for child abuse.
$1,150,000 recovery against county for a dangerous sidewalk causing disabling fractured arm
$1,050,000 trial verdict compression fracture suffered by HVAC journeyman
$2,100,000 trial verdict fractured arm and shoulder parking lot hazard at Denny’s Restaurant
$7,500,000 recovery for seniors crushed by VTA bus
$3,000,000 for multiple fractures by a pedestrian struck by a truck
$1,000,700 trial verdict defective ladder caused lumbar compression fracture
$6,625,000 high-voltage catastrophic burns caused by failure to maintain powerline right-of-way
$1,900,000 severe fractures cervical vertebrae C4-5 and C5-6 defective car seat
$1,225,000 fractures caused by truck smashing a stalled car
$1,200,000 fall injuries defective train boarding ramp
$1,000,000 neck fractures caused by a commercial gym’s dangerous foam pit
$1,100,000 mild traumatic brain injury caused by collision
$10,000,000 confidential recovery for a defective fuel system causing lifetime scars and a teenage death
$8,300,000 for death and severe crush injuries caused by a teenager with a $15,000 policy.
$10,100,000 trial judgment for child found 66% at fault running into street; $50,000 insurance policy.
$8,132,000 jury verdict for brain injury caused by a big rig
$11,000,000. C-6 quadriplegia recoveries against dairy truck
$4,000,000 police brutality; shotgun face wound
$1,800,000 head injury in rollover near Santa Fe, New Mexico
$15,500,000 electrical burn injuries
$5,200,000 severe facial and orthopedic injuries defective Route 17 intersection
$4,250,000 birth defects caused by mother’s exposure to chemicals at work
$4,500,000 L-1 paraplegic motorcycle crash; $30,000 insurance policy
$2,570,259 fire damage caused by Caltrans
$8,500,000 triple amputation suffered by trespassing teen in Washington, D.C.
$1,750,000 foot amputation for bicyclist crossing Highway 1 at night
$1,500,000 wrongful death caused by defective tire and rollover New Mexico
$3,500,000 spinal cord injury caused by rollover
$3,200,000 death of a Las Vegas student caused by defective tire and rollover
$2,650,000 amputation recovery
$5,000,000. C-7 quadriplegia freeway rollover in Multnomah County, Oregon
$2,300,000 wrong death recovery against drunk driver.
$1,450,000 adoption fraud recovery against San Mateo County
$1,650,000 in wrongful adoption recoveries against Tulare County
$1,800,000 for birth defects from exposure to solvents during pregnancy
$1,182,292 jury verdict for theft by warehouse owners
$200,000,000 first U.S. “buy back” of defective Nissan minivans from 33,000 owners
$180,000,000 Richmond Sulfuric Acid Cloud chaired the Medical Causation Committee
$120,000,000 One of eight firms winning repair 3,300,000 Chrysler minivans hatch locks
$550,000,000 key executive committee lawyer against General Motors for 5,500,000 owners of defective 1973-87 C and K model pickups with saddlebag gas tanks in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
$2,000,000 property damage recovery for arsenic pollution in Sutter Creek
Confidential: 240 IBM workers and families for birth defects and cancer
Confidential: brutal asphyxiation murder by San Jose Police Department
Confidential: police gross negligence wrongful death Modesto Police Department.
*Not a guarantee of future outcomes, but evidence of the first class work provided our clients.
Unmatched Highly Diversified Experience Against Major Defendants
IBM, Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, BMW, British Leyland, Nissan Motors, Honda, Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon Endo, Boys Scouts of America, Safeway, Albertsons, Denny’s, 7-Eleven, Pacific Gas & Electric, Idaho Power, Varco International, Marriott, Host Hotels & Resorts, General Electric, Conrail, Amtrak, British Leyland, Champion Papers, DAP, Werner Ladders, Owens-Illinois, Select Hotels Group, Subway, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Amica Mutual Insurance, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Olin, XPO Logistics Trucking, Crestline Hotels & Resorts, Union Pacific Railroad, Westfield Corporation, Security Risk Management, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, Southern Pacific Railroad, Pebble Beach Resorts, National Retail Properties, Triumph, CH2MHill, Dollinger Properties, Southern Pacific Railroad, B.F. Goodrich, Uniroyal, U.S. Plywood, Market Transport Trucking, Keller Industries, Firestone, DuPont, Shell Oil, Amoco, Chevron, Texaco, Dow Chemical, Olin, Union Oil, Northstar Trucking Lines, United Technologies, Pratt & Whitney, National Carbide, Consolidated Freight Way Trucking, Exxon Mobile, Bausch & Lomb, Sears, Nationwide Insurance, Allstate Insurance, Fluor Corporation, State of California, US government, Caltrans, multiple cities and counties.
Nationwide Experience in 24 States
Have represented plaintiffs in state and federal courts in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.