Proving Occupational Disease for Workers’ Compensation Cases

Occupational Disease and Workers Comp Case

Last updated on March 1, 2020

Traditionally speaking, occupational diseases are defined as ailments, or illnesses, that have been contracted due to a particular type of work, or work place environment. Employees who have contracted an illness due to their job are not restricted from filing for workers’ compensation claim. Much like workers’ comp cases that were the result of an employee being injured while working, those who are suffering from occupational diseases will need to prove that they are a result of their job or workplace environment.

The workers’ compensation law draws a line between occupational diseases and ordinary diseases of life. A person suffering from lung cancer, for example, will need to prove that the cancer was caused by their particular occupation. This is a taxing process to face alone; having experienced representation on your side will ease the process. The cautionary issue with occupational diseases is that they can develop over an extended period of time. As opposed to a work-related injury which comes on suddenly and at once.

It can be relatively easy to prove that work conditions caused traditional occupational diseases, where the medical link is well established and exposure away from work is rare. This could be the case for a coal miner or a person who removes asbestos from old homes.

If the disease is considered “an ordinary disease of life” (lung cancer, COPD), it can be harder to prove it is work-related. The employee will need convincing medical evidence that the workplace exposure caused or contributed to the illness.

In the event of death related to an occupational disease, the spouse or dependents must file within the states time frame outlined by the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board . In cases where aggravations, or injury, are caused by an occupational disease, employees or dependents are required to prove the aggravation is a result of the occupational disease. An employee who is disabled due to a work-related occupational disease will receive the same benefits as someone who suffered from an on-the-job injury.

Occupational Diseases Covered by Workers’ Compensation

Common occupational diseases workers may develop on the job include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Coal workers pneumoconiosis (CWP)
  • Blood borne disease
  • Black lung disease
  • Occupational dermatitis such as eczema
  • Hearing loss
  • Respiratory illnesses such as asbestosis, chronic bronchitis, and tuberculosis

As many of these are commonly linked to poor diet or smoking, many workers are not aware that the illness was caused by an exposure in the workplace until it is too late. This makes it imperative to speak openly with your physician and to make yourself aware of any workplace hazards you may encounter.

An employee suffering from an occupational disease must file a claim within the later of two dates:

  • Two years from the date of the disabled worker’s disability or
  • Two years from the time the disabled worker knew or should have known that the disease was due to their work environment

In the event of hearing loss, there are other time limits that apply. The waiting period for the worker to submit a workers’ compensation claim is as follows:

  • Three months from the date the worker is removed from the harmful noise in the workplace; or
  • Three months after leaving the work environment in which the exposure to the harmful noise occurred.

The last day of either 3-month period is the date the disability began. The employee can file a workers’ compensation claim beyond the two-year limit as long as it is done within ninety days of knowledge that the hearing loss is related to their employment.

Workers’ compensation isn’t something you should face on your own, you need a team of experienced experts leading you through every step and defending your case. The attorneys of Erwin, McCane & Daly are well versed and leading experts in workers’ compensation cases. Don’t face this on your own, contact our attorneys today and we will handle the tribulations, putting your mind at ease.