Welding Rods: Overview and Injuries
Welding rods are metal instruments that join two items during the welding process. The rods serve as filler material to join the two pieces. They carry an electrical current through the pieces, binding them. For example, workers may use welding rods to repair a metal door or hinge.
When the intense heat of a welder's torch burns into a metal surface, the welder and other people in the area risk exposure to toxic fumes. These fumes may have serious adverse health consequences. For example, high levels of manganese exposure can cause brain damage. The fumes from this chemical can also enter our food and drinking water.
Fumes from metallic elements used on welding rods can trigger debilitating neurological conditions like Parkinson's disease. Welding rod fumes can be fatal if they cause a long-term illness such as lung cancer, kidney disease, or acute metal poisoning.
In addition to the chemical dangers posed by substances on the welding rods, fumes emitted while welding older, paint-covered metals can be hazardous.
If your dangerous exposure to toxic welding fumes is due to the carelessness of another person or company, you may have a legal claim for damages.
Welding Rods and Parkinson's Disease
One of the most severe injuries that can result from welding rods is early-onset Parkinson's disease. This develops when toxic levels of manganese fumes enter the environment. It's hazardous when the welding process takes place in confined spaces.
Manganese is a metallic element in almost all steel products and most welding materials. For years, experts have linked manganese poisoning to Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's is a disorder that impairs the motor system. People develop Parkinson's when they lose dopamine-producing brain cells. This causes nerve cells to fire haphazardly. People with Parkinson's disease are incapable of controlling specific physical movements. Parkinson's is a progressive disorder, meaning that it usually gets worse over time.
Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease
The symptoms of Parkinson's disease usually appear gradually and tend to increase over time.
Some common symptoms of Parkinson's disease include:
- Trembling and tremors in the face, hands, arms, and legs
- Stiffness in the arms and legs
- Abnormal slowness in body movement
- Loss of smell
- Trouble sleeping
- Problems with coordination, balance, and walking
- Difficulty talking clearly
- Dementia and depression
If you are a welder and experience these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. While Parkinson's disease treatments are improving, it's still a debilitating condition. If your personal injury attorney can prove that your disease is due to welding rods, you may have a claim for damages.
Proving Toxic Welding Rod Injury
To succeed in a welding rod injury claim, you must prove that another person's negligence caused your injury. This is straightforward in a car accident claim. It's not so easy when it comes to welding rod injuries. Doing so may require the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer. When you pursue a legal claim, your attorneys may also need to consult medical doctors, safety consultants, and other experts.
Suppose you believe your manganese exposure was due to welding rod fume exposure at work. To establish causation, your attorney might hire doctors, toxicologists, workplace safety experts, and machinery or product safety consultants. These experts help determine what happened and whether your injuries were preventable.
The defendants will hire an attorney and have their own set of doctors and experts. Their experts will likely come to a different conclusion than your attorney's. Defense experts may suggest your injury was due to something other than exposure to toxic welding rod fumes. They may argue that you didn't suffer an injury.
The defendant may argue that it wasn't their fault you suffered exposure to toxic welding fumes. For example, your employer may say it did everything possible to ensure a safe workplace. They may claim the respiratory safety equipment was faulty and that the equipment manufacturer is responsible for your injuries.
'Negligence' or 'Strict Liability'?
Your attorney can pursue two types of claims: negligence or strict liability. It will depend on the facts of your case.
Under a negligence theory of liability, your attorney must prove the following:
- The defendant owed you a duty of reasonable care
- They failed to fulfill that duty
- You suffered an injury
- Your injury was the direct result of the defendant's breach of duty
Negligence usually applies when someone's action (or failure to act) is the main cause of your injury, not a product or piece of equipment.
The second type of claim is a strict product liability case. Under this theory, your attorney will argue that the welding rods or other equipment manufacturer is responsible for your injuries. For example, the manufacturer may be liable if the company didn't make the welding rods properly.
Damages for Welding Rod Injuries
Welding rods may cause damage to your central nervous system. It depends on the amount of manganese the rods emit into the air. Of course, welders use other materials that can make you sick, such as:
- Metal fumes
The effects of welding fume exposure can be severe. We already discussed the increased risk of Parkinsonian symptoms you may experience from welding rods. But you can suffer other neurological effects as well.
The health risks from occupational exposure to welding rods and toxic fumes can be severe and permanent. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates the amount of exposure during the welding process. Unfortunately, not all companies abide by these rules.
You can file a workers' compensation claim if you get sick after using welding rods or working near toxic fumes. Workers' compensation insurance will cover your medical care and lost wages.
If you file a personal injury lawsuit due to the toxicity of welding fumes, you can demand the following types of damages:
- Medical bills
- Costs of rehabilitation
- Lost wages and future wages
- Lost earning capacity and related fringe benefits
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
In some instances, involving severe and long-lasting medical illness, the spouse and children of a person injured by toxic welding rod fumes may also demand damages.
Getting Legal Help
If you or a loved one experiences the symptoms of Parkinson's disease or any other movement disorders, seek immediate medical attention. You may also wish to speak with an experienced attorney to discuss your legal rights to compensation for your injuries.
Plaintiffs who suffer Parkinson-like symptoms may also qualify for damages. It depends on the facts of your case and the strength of the evidence.
Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to schedule your free case evaluation.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.