A highly flammable gas, ethylene oxide (EtO) is used widely across the United States. Produced at more than a dozen facilities—most of which are located in Texas and Louisiana—EtO serves a critical role in a number of essential industries. For example, more than half of all medical devices are sterilized with ethylene oxide.
Unfortunately, while society in general benefits from EtO, those who work with the gas or live near a plant that produces it are at risk. Deemed a human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2016, ethylene oxide has been linked to cancers of the white blood cells. Examples include lymphocytic leukemia, myeloma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Long-term exposure to EtO also appears to increase the risk of breast cancer in among other malignancies.
If you or someone you love is battling cancer and you think ethylene oxide may have contributed to the disease, fill out our form. Depending on the circumstances, your family may be entitled to compensation for the associated losses, and we’ll connect you with a qualified attorney who can help you determine how to proceed.
- What Is Ethylene Oxide?
- What Should I Do if I Have Been Affected by Ethylene Oxide?
- How Do I Know if I Qualify to Be Part of an Ethylene Oxide Lawsuit?
- How Does an Ethylene Oxide Lawsuit Work?
- Do I Need Legal Counsel to Join an Ethylene Oxide Lawsuit?
- How Long Does It Take to Resolve an Ethylene Oxide Lawsuit?
- What Is the Statute of Limitations for an Ethylene Oxide Lawsuit?
- How Much Can You Recover From an Ethylene Oxide Lawsuit?
- How Long Does It Take to Receive the Funds After Resolving a Lawsuit?
- Final Thoughts
What Is Ethylene Oxide?
Ethylene oxide is a colorless gas that has a slightly sweet smell. An intermediate chemical, it’s primarily used to make other industrial-strength products, like sterilants and fumigants. It’s used in the synthesis of ethylene glycol, as well, which can be found in everything from antifreeze to polyester.
EtO’s vapors are highly toxic to humans and can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. It has also become clear that extended exposure can cause cancer.
Because of the health risks that EtO poses, manufacturers must take reasonable measures to protect both individuals who work for them and families who live near their plants. Should they fail to shield either from excessive ethylene oxide exposure, those who fall ill may be able to sue for damages on the grounds of negligence.
If you or a close relative was diagnosed with cancer, and you think exposure to EtO may be to blame, fill out our form. We’ll help you get in touch with a personal injury attorney who’s equipped to help your family pursue the compensation you deserve.
By the end of 2020, hundreds of people had filed individual suits and class action claims against various chemical facilities for allegedly exposing them or their loved ones to ethylene oxide. Most defendants have challenged these actions, claiming their operations comply with all mandated safety regulations and emission limits.
Virtually all these suits are still in their early stages, and by the end of 2020, no settlements were awarded, and no verdicts were ordered. Depending on the kind of evidence that comes to light during subsequent investigations, however, some plaintiffs could walk away with sizable payouts in the near future.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with an illness that could be related to ethylene oxide exposure and you’re wondering whether filing a claim could be worthwhile, complete our form. We’ll connect you with a local firm that can evaluate your situation so you can proceed with confidence.
Recommended Exposure Limits
Generally speaking, a chemical facility can only be held liable for ethylene oxide-related complications if they failed to take reasonable measures to abide by all relevant regulations. Such regulations are in place to protect both those who work at these plants and those who live in the vicinity.
For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforces an exposure limit of 50 parts per million (PPM) of ethylene oxide over an eight-hour period. It’s up to facilities to test their air quality periodically to confirm that they’re not exceeding this limit. Should they fail to perform such tests frequently enough—or to make the necessary adjustments if the results come back with more than 50 ppm—they could be financially accountable for any health complications that result.
Chemical plants also have an obligation to train their employees on the hazards of working in an environment that contains ethylene oxide. Facilities must distribute adequate safety attire, as well. These are examples of reasonable measures they can take to mitigate exposure and all the health risks that come with it.
Researchers Link Ethylene Oxide to DNA Abnormalities
Studies linking ethylene oxide to cancer are still scant; however, researchers have confirmed that EtO has to potential to alter DNA. With enough exposure, such alterations can theoretically allow for malignancies to develop. While more studies involving human DNA need to be conducted, scientists have confirmed that animals exposed to ethylene oxide can develop tumors.
Patients Begin Filing Ethylene Oxide Lawsuits
Once it became clear that exposure to EtO posed a legitimate risk at the cellular level, people who felt wronged by chemical facilities started taking action. The hundreds of suits that have been filed have linked a dozen different kinds of cancer to ethylene oxide, including:
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Lymphocytic leukemia
- Kidney cancer
- Lung cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Uterine cancer
What Should I Do if I Have Been Affected by Ethylene Oxide?
If you or someone you love was diagnosed with cancer following exposure to ethylene oxide, your family may be entitled to compensation for the associated losses. Just because you have grounds for legal action, however, doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a payout.
In order to recover the funds you deserve, you’ll have to prove both liability and damages. You’ll also have to avoid making critical mistakes over the course of the proceedings that might otherwise hurt your right to compensation.
With so much at stake, it’s advisable to seek legal counsel as soon as you suspect a chemical facility was to blame for the diagnosis. A strategic and resourceful personal injury attorney can evaluate the situation from all angles and help your family determine how to proceed.
If it turns out you do have grounds for a claim, you can count on your lawyer to:
- Conduct a thorough investigation into the extent of exposure and subsequent diagnosis
- Gather the kinds of evidence needed to prove negligence on the part of the defendant
- Consult relevant medical specialists and EtO experts
- Track recoverable damages
- Handle all correspondence with the defendant’s legal team
- Negotiate for a fair settlement
- Prepare your case for court if negotiations prove futile
- Keep you from making costly mistakes along the way
While a reputable firm will be able to handle virtually all the logistics of your case, you can support their efforts by:
- Keeping a personal injury journal
- Preserving all documentation that corresponds to treatment-related expenses
- Not posting about the cancer or pending claim on social media
- Referring all phone calls and emails from the opposing party to your attorney
How Do I Know if I Qualify to Be Part of an Ethylene Oxide Lawsuit?
The easiest way to determine whether taking action against a chemical facility may be worthwhile is by consulting an attorney. Since most personal injury practices offer free case reviews, you’ve got nothing to lose by filling out our form. We’ll connect you with a firm in your area that can let you know if you qualify to file an ethylene oxide lawsuit.
How Does an Ethylene Oxide Lawsuit Work?
Although every personal injury suit is unique, they typically all follow the same basic proceedings. For example, every ethylene oxide case will start with a comprehensive investigation. Once your legal team gathers the evidence needed to back up your claims, they will send a demand letter to the facility that’s ultimately liable for the complications you’ve suffered.
Since it’s unlikely that the facility will accept your request for compensation at face value, they will probably proceed with an investigation of their own. Depending on the evidence that comes to light, they may then be willing to negotiate.
This is the stage at which most personal injury cases are resolved. If the liable party denies your claim, however, or refuses to offer a fair settlement, you may have to file a formal lawsuit.
The typical proceedings for an ethylene oxide lawsuit are as follows:
- Filing the complaint
- Conducting discovery
- Attending mediation
- Going to trial
- Filing an appeal
It’s worth noting that not every suit will make it through every stage. At any point, the parties may come to an agreement regarding a settlement on their own. Likewise, of the cases that do end up going to trial, most of the verdicts won’t be appealed.
Do I Need Legal Counsel to Join an Ethylene Oxide Lawsuit?
When it comes to ethylene oxide lawsuits, plaintiffs are entitled to represent themselves. If your family’s financial security is at stake, though, it’s worth turning to a professional for help.
An experienced personal injury attorney will have the resources to investigate the extent of the EtO exposure and the circumstances surrounding the associated health complications. A lawyer will also protect your interests at every stage of the proceedings while keeping the defendant from violating your rights at any point. To find such an attorney near you, fill out our form.
If you’re concerned you can’t afford to hire a lawyer, think again. Most reputable firms work for contingency fees. That means clients pay for their services using a portion of the payout they end up recovering. And if your claim proves unsuccessful, you won’t owe any attorney’s fees at all.
How Long Does It Take to Resolve an Ethylene Oxide Lawsuit?
Unfortunately, when it comes to personal injury actions, there’s no way to guarantee a quick settlement or fast verdict. What’s more, cases involving ethylene oxide-related complications are inherently complex because of the limited research on the subject.
As such, potential plaintiffs should be prepared for their claim to take several months—or more—for negotiations to even commence. And if their case isn’t settled, they should be prepared for it to take considerably longer as their action goes through the court proceedings.
While an attorney who practices with integrity will never promise to secure a payout by a certain date—the process is inherently unpredictable, after all—a seasoned professional can at least give you some idea of what to expect along the way. To find a personal injury lawyer in your home state, fill out our form, and we’ll connect you with a reliable local firm.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for an Ethylene Oxide Lawsuit?
If you’re unable to arrive at a satisfactory settlement with the opposing party, you’ll have a limited amount of time to file a formal lawsuit. When it comes to personal injury actions, every state has statutes of limitations. These laws prohibit claimants from going to court after a certain amount of time has passed.
Filing deadlines generally range from one to six years. For cases involving EtO exposure, the “clock” starts ticking on the date on which the affected party knew—or should have known through reasonable diligence—that the diagnosis was likely caused by exposure to ethylene oxide.
How Much Can You Recover From an Ethylene Oxide Lawsuit?
A successful personal injury suit can yield compensation for both monetary and non-monetary losses. As long as you present legitimate documentation, for example, you should be able to seek funds for your medical bills, lost wages, domestic help, and replacement services.
You should also be able to include non-economic damages like pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment in life in the settlement negotiations.
Naturally, the value of your claim will depend on the circumstances. Factors that will influence the amount of compensation to which you may be entitled include:
- The severity of your condition and its prognosis
- The cost of all essential medical care
- The extent of any permanent disabilities your condition causes
- The impact your condition has on your quality of life
- The impact your condition has on your loved ones
- Whether you took reasonable measures to mitigate damages
- The liable party’s willingness to cooperate
- The liable party’s available insurance coverage
- The strength of the evidence you present
How Long Does It Take to Receive the Funds After Resolving a Lawsuit?
If your case yields compensation, you should receive the funds in a matter of weeks. Most personal injury payouts are distributed to the claimant’s legal team. They are responsible for covering all pending expenses, like expert witness fees, attorney’s fees, and health insurance liens. Once all such costs have been taken care of, the plaintiff will receive the remaining balance.
If you or a loved one is battling cancer and you think EtO exposure was ultimately to blame, it’s natural to feel hopeless. While filing a personal injury claim won’t undo the damage that has already occurred, it could at least yield the resources needed to continue taking care of your family.
When you’re ready to get started, fill out for form. We’ll put you in contact with a reputable local firm that’s equipped to help you pursue the funds you deserve.