Can I be compensated if a cleaning product damaged my lungs?

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Can I be compensated if a cleaning product damaged my lungs?

Cleaning product that boasts “No Fumes” damaged my lungs. I have been ill for 2 weeks and my doctor says that my lungs were damaged from the vapors of this cleaning fluid. It is difficult for me to breath and the pain is terrible. He hopes that they will heal, but there is no grantee. Should I speak with a personal injury attorney? In Morris County, NJ.

Asked on July 15, 2011 under Personal Injury, New Jersey


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It would be advisable to speak with a personal injury attorney.

This area of law concerning a defective product is products liability.  Both the manufacturer of the product and the seller (store where you purchased the product) would be liable for your injury.

When you are released by the doctor upon completion of your medical treatment or upon the doctor declaring you to be permanent and stationary, which means that no further improvement is anticipated, obtain your medical bills, medical reports and documentation of any wage loss.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.

Prior to filing a lawsuit against the manufacturer and seller of the product, contact their insurance carriers and file your personal injury claim consisting of the medical reports, medical bills, and documentation of wage loss.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance companies, file your lawsuit for negligence and strict liability.

Negligence is based on the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable manufacturer would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).  In order to prove negligence, you will need to prove duty of care (discussed above), breach of duty (failure to prevent the emission of the fumes), actual cause, proximate cause, damages.  Actual cause means but for the fumes, would you have been injured?  If the answer is no, which appears to be the case, you have established actual cause.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable intervening events which would relieve the defendant from liability?  If the answer is no, you have established proximate cause.  Damages refers to the amount of compensation you are seeking to recover for your injury.

Negligence is one cause of action (claim) in your lawsuit against the manufacturer and seller. The other separate cause of action (claim) to include in your lawsuit is strict liability.  Strict liability means the manufacturer and seller are liable whether or not they exercised due care.

If your personal injury claim is not settled with the insurance carriers for both the manufacturer and seller, you will need to file your lawsuit for negligence and strict liability prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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