While lead is a dangerous substance for all people, children are much more susceptible to its effects because of their undeveloped bodies and immune systems. The Chicago lead poisoning attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers have represented numerous families of children who have suffered developmental delays and impaired cognitive function due to exposure to lead. It is the responsibility of property owners to take appropriate measures to eliminate the presence of lead and to bring their properties up to code to protect their residents from this common material. Whenever negligence results in needless injuries and health complications, the victims have the right to seek compensation to cover the cost of their medical expenses and lost opportunities.
How Exposure to Lead Occurs in Children
It wasn’t until the 1970s that the dangers of lead were discovered and prior to this point, it was used for countless commercial and industrial applications. Lead is still used in pipes, batteries and construction materials today. The primary cause of lead exposure to children is due to paint— lead based paint was common and popular before it was banned in the late 1970s. Old toys and the paint on the walls of buildings constructed before the ban of lead based paints are two of the greatest contributors to lead poisoning today.
Other ways that children can become exposed to lead include the following.
- Drinking water that has flowed through contaminated lead pipes. When pipe start to wear, the lead can break into particles, which are then carried through the water.
- Playing near busy streets near lead-contaminated soil. Around the same time that lead based paint was banned in the United States, lead was one of the ingredients in gasoline. While the country has since moved onto the use of unleaded fuels, much of the lead from decades ago remains in the soil near thoroughfares that were heavily trafficked.
- Contact with lead-contaminated toys or jewelry. It is important to check any imported toy for lead prior to giving it to a child.
- Eating imported food that has been packaged with lead. Food based lead poisoning can also occur if a child eats from old dishes that have been produced with lead based paint or glazes.
How Lead Impacts Development and Cognitive Function
One of the most startling statistics our Chicago lead contamination lawyers have come across is that 310,000 children under 5 years of age are found to have unsafe levels of lead in their blood. In addition to presenting other symptoms of lead poisoning such as anemia, stomach pain and headaches, the impact of lead poisoning can extend to the development of the brain. As a heavy metal, lead is absorbed into the body like a mineral, where it has the opportunity to damage every cell it touches, from red blood cells to muscle and nerve tissues and brain cells.
After it has already caused damage, it ultimately settles in the bones where it can inhibit the absorption of calcium, which is needed for healthy bone development, proper motor function, blood vessel development and nerve function. Once lead begins to impact nervous and motor function, it can reach the brain and impair cognitive development as well. The developmental symptoms of lead poisoning include the following.
- Inability to speak or learn a language
- Falling behind one’s peers in school
- Seizures and temporary loss of consciousness
- Delayed or diminished muscle growth
- Loss of motor function and coordination
Due to the age of many of Chicago’s buildings and the level of lead contamination in soil throughout the city, children living in the city often test positive for elevated levels of lead. Studies have shown that even minor exposure can impact a child’s ability to learn and those with unsafe levels of lead in their bodies did not perform as well on standardized tests as their unaffected peers. Those with minor lead poisoning had a 33% chance of performing poorly while those with significantly elevated levels exhibited a 50% chance of poor performance.
Proving Property Owner Negligence
If you live in an older building, chances are the walls were originally painted with lead based paints and the pipes throughout your building may be worn. Even if the paint has since been removed or painted over, lead particles and dust may still be present. It is the property owner’s duty to test buildings for the presence of lead and to take the measures needed to reduce the saturation of lead to levels that the State of Illinois has deemed safe. If your child has suffered developmental delay due to lead poisoning, you are entitled to compensation for the following.
- The medical care required to treat the lead poisoning and bring lead levels back to normal
- The emotional and physical pain and suffering caused by physical or cognitive impairment
- The out of pocket expenses required to care for a child with developmental or cognitive disorders
- Compensation for the loss of opportunity and potential income that your child will lose due to his or her injuries
- The cost of ongoing therapy and rehabilitation required to help your child lead a productive and happy life
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers is an award winning personal injury law firm that has worked on behalf of thousands of injured clients to ensure that they received the medical care they deserve while still being able to afford it. Our access to a network of qualified medical professionals ensures that your child will have access to the right doctors while our experienced lawyers seek the compensation needed to provide for the needs of your child and family. To learn more about how we can help you and our track record of success, contact us to arrange a free consultation and case review.
Our Chicago lead poisoning attorneys will answer your questions and review your legal options with you once we have had the opportunity to investigate the details of your claim. At no point will we require a fee during the legal process unless we have successfully secured damages on your behalf. If we cannot win or settle your case, our services will be free.