Smoke inhalation is the number one cause of death related to fires. It’s a serious condition that has an incredibly negative impact on your health.
It happens when you breathe in the products of combustion during a fire, which can either prevent oxygen from getting to your lungs or even poison your body with harmful chemicals.
What Are the Symptoms?
It’s possible to develop a variety of symptoms of smoke inhalation:
- Coughing – when the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract get irritated
- Hoarseness or noisy breathing – when fluids are collecting in the upper airway
- Shortness of breath – caused by direct injury to the respiratory tract
- Irritated eyes – it’s even possible to have burns on the cornea
- Headaches – fires expose you to carbon monoxide. Even if you do not experience respiratory issues, you may still have inhaled carbon monoxide.
If there is a fire at your place of employment and you’ve inhaled a lot of smoke, it’s important to get medical attention at once. Doctors can perform tests to see how extensive the damage is, and what kind of treatment you need.
Who Pays for the Treatment?
Workers compensation benefits are given to injured workers whenever they require treatment, or medical attention because of an injury sustained at work, or an illness developed as a result of their work.
When there is a fire, and workers get hurt, they may think that workers’ compensation does not apply. As long as the fire took place at the place of employment during working hours, then you are generally entitled to compensation.
There are two possible scenarios where workers compensation may not apply:
If You Caused the Fire Intentionally
When you are intentionally setting fire to a building or space, you are committing a felony called arson. If you are discovered, you will generally face criminal charges.
When the Fire Takes Place after Hours
If you stopped by work outside of your working hours, for whatever reason, and you get hurt in the fire, then workers compensation will generally not apply. You were not ‘on the clock’ at the time, which means you were not required to be there. An exception could be made if your employer officially asks you to go to work outside the work hours. However, if you’re there voluntarily, then compensation laws likely do not apply.
There is also an issue if the fire takes place during the lunch break. It’s possible to argue that you were technically not on the clock at the time, though you were still on the premises.
What can you do?
If you have smoke inhalation injuries because of a fire at work, reach out to a St. Louis workers compensation lawyer ASAP for legal advice. They can help you file a claim and make sure you get the full amount of compensation you are legally entitled to. Give us a call 24/7 at (314) 361-4300 for a FREE case evaluation.