Workers’ compensation is designed to help workers who have been injured or become ill because of their job. Injuries on the job are far more common than illnesses, and they are easier to prove. It is easy to see the cause of an injury (such as the results of a fall or equipment malfunction), but that showing that your work environment caused a sickness or illness is not obvious. Chemical exposure, in particular, is difficult to prove because it often does not manifest until long after the initial contact.
Workers’ compensation should cover illnesses, but the sad reality is that it can be a struggle to receive these types of benefits. Working with a workers’ comp attorney will greatly increase your chances of receiving workers’ compensation benefits for your illness.
Difficulties with Occupational Diseases and Workers’ Compensation
Occupational diseases and illnesses can be difficult to detect. It is also extremely difficult to nail down a cause in some situations. This is, in part, because many occupational conditions could have been caused by other factors as well, including smoking or genetics. Workers often do not realize their employment (or prior employment) was really to blame for their condition. In fact, because of this, many workers do not even file a workers’ compensation claim when they contract a work-related illness.
In bringing these types of cases, the worker has an obligation to show that the conditions of their working environment were most likely the cause of their condition. From a medical standpoint, this can be difficult because some diseases and long-term illnesses often have more than one cause, and work may have just been one factor of many.
Another hurdle is that most states impose a time limitation for filing for workers’ compensation based on your last exposure to the hazardous substance. Some conditions do not show symptoms until long after this time period has passed.
For these reasons and others, one 2015 report estimated that 95 percent of fatal occupational diseases or illnesses are never covered by workers’ compensation—not even for a portion of the time. Instead, families must use services like Medicare to cover costs, which costs taxpayers roughly $27 billion in just one year.
Can Workers’ Compensation Help?
Workers’ compensation is designed to cover occupational illnesses. However, it is far more likely to work with claims like tendinitis or chronic back pain than it is for potentially deadly conditions like cancer or dementia. Serious claims like mesothelioma or silicosis are well-known to be caused by working conditions, but even these are not slam dunk cases.
The best way to deal with these types of cases is to speak with a workers’ comp lawyer immediately if you suspect that your condition may be related to work. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you investigate the potential exposure and may even have access to information that you might not have. The clock is ticking on your claim, so you need to act quickly. Don’t wait—call Jim Glaser Law today.