Who Can File a PFAS Cancer Lawsuit?

If you want to file a per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) lawsuit in Illinois, you may be able to do so if you are or were a firefighter using PFAS-containing foam, an airport worker exposed to PFAS-containing foam or water, or another individual with a cancer diagnosis potentially resulting from PFAS-contaminated drinking water.

Learning more about these cases can help you determine whether you qualify for a PFAS cancer lawsuit.

What Is Considered PFAS Contamination?

PFAS are a group of around 12,000 different types of synthetic chemicals that have gained the nickname “forever chemicals” because of their ability to remain in the environment and people’s bodies for sustained periods of time. These chemicals are potentially harmful and can lead to many types of illnesses, including serious conditions like cancer. People could endure exposure to PFAS through different sources, including water and industrial foam products.

PFAS Exposure in Illinois

In Illinois, many people sustain exposure to PFAS through drinking water and foam containing these chemicals. People could also encounter these chemicals through other types of industrial and consumer products.

Specifically, people can endure exposure to PFAS by consuming contaminated water or food, inhaling fumes or particles in the air, or making contact with surfaces and equipment containing PFAS.

Who Is Eligible to File a PFAS Cancer Lawsuit in Illinois?

There are three main types of plaintiffs in PFAS cancer lawsuits who can begin a case to seek compensation. These individuals include:

  • Firefighters, including U.S. military and airport firefighters who have used foam products containing PFAS
  • Workers exposed to PFAS-containing materials on the job
  • Individuals who have received a cancer diagnosis or whose loved ones died from an illness related to PFAS exposure

PFAS Contamination and Its Health Impacts

There are many health issues that can result from exposure to PFAS, several of which are fatal. These chemicals remain in the body for long periods, which can significantly increase the risk of developing serious illnesses, especially after years of exposure.

Sources of PFAS Contamination

People may suffer exposure to PFAS from multiple sources. For instance, millions of people across the country could consume PFAS chemicals in contaminated drinking water, in which cases it’s impossible to detect these substances without testing because of their tasteless, odorless, and colorless nature. In addition to water, it’s possible for PFAS to leak into the air and soil, which can lead to exposure through inhalation and physical contact with these chemicals.

Other sources could include various industrial and consumer products. Examples could be foam products that firefighters use to put out fires, cleaning products, nonstick cookware, stain-resistant fabric coatings, and personal care products.

People can also suffer exposure to PFAS chemicals through food packaging, with many cardboard and paper packages containing amounts of PFAS that help them resist water and grease. PFAS could then leak into food products.

Health Risks Associated With PFAS Exposure

Examples of illnesses resulting from PFAS exposure include leukemia, bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, ulcerative colitis, lymphoma, and other types of cancer.

The longer the exposure to PFAS, the more likely people are to develop the many illnesses attributed to these chemicals.

Proving PFAS Exposure Directly Contributed to Cancer

If you want to succeed with a PFAS cancer lawsuit, you must be able to prove that PFAS exposure directly led to a cancer diagnosis or another related illness. These cases involve product liability, which could make manufacturers and distributors of products containing PFAS liable for damages resulting from exposure to these chemicals.

To increase your chances of succeeding with a case, speak with a product liability lawyer with experience handling class action lawsuits and other types of product liability cases.

Product Liability and Negligence

In product liability cases, there are multiple items you must prove before you can recover compensation for damages.

These items include:

  1. That you or a loved one sustained injuries or death that help prove the existence of a defect.
  2. That the product was defective, which in PFAS cases would involve including dangerous levels of PFAS.
  3. The defect directly contributed to the injury or death.
  4. The plaintiff used the product reasonably, as the manufacturer intended.

There are different types of product liability claims. Depending on the specific case, these lawsuits could involve different types of defects, including defective product designs, manufacturing defects, or defective marketing and failure to warn. An attorney can discuss these types of cases more in-depth and help you determine whether you have a valid lawsuit against manufacturers or distributors of products containing PFAS.

Expert Witnesses

Part of proving that PFAS directly caused cancer or another illness could involve getting the opinion of an expert witness. This expert witness would include medical professionals who can determine whether PFAS exposure is the likely culprit in a diagnosis based on the nature and duration of exposure to these substances.

He or she can also help answer the question, “What is an unreasonably dangerous product?” Some products, like drinking water or industrial foams, may have dangerously high levels of PFAS that put people more at risk. An expert witness would be able to help determine whether these products contained levels of PFAS that exceed the amounts allowed under Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines and regulations.

Determine Whether You Have a PFAS Cancer Lawsuit

If you or a loved one sustained exposure to PFAS or believe you have suffered exposure and have developed a related illness, you may be able to file a PFAS cancer lawsuit. You could qualify for a lawsuit if you worked with PFAS-contaminated products on the job or suffered exposure through drinking water or certain consumer products.

In determining whether you have a valid case, consider speaking with an experienced product liability attorney who can assess your case and determine your options when seeking compensation. 

Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
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