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When is a Disease Considered an “Occupational Illness”?

| Mar 26, 2020 | Occupational Illnesses, Workers' Comp |

Workers’ compensation benefits are available to employees who sustain injuries at work. In addition to covering the expenses associated with severe physical injuries, benefits are also available to employees who are diagnosed with an occupational illness. Diseases that are considered as occupational illnesses vary, and determining if a sick employee is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits requires an evaluation of the cause of illness.

Legally-Defined Occupational Illnesses

Some diseases are explicitly defined by law as occupational illnesses in certain industries. For example, cancer is legally defined as an occupational illness among firefighters in many states, including California. Even some mental conditions, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are considered as occupational illnesses among first responders and other high-stress roles. Conditions that are considered as occupational illnesses in your line of work should be outlined in your employer’s workers’ compensation policy. Generally, industries that have legally-defined occupational illnesses include hazardous roles and positions that involve exposure to toxic substances.

Determining if a Disease is Work-Related

If a disease is not expressly defined as an occupational illness, you will need to establish a case that demonstrates your illness is work related. To do this, you will need to show that a) the illness was acquired at your place of work and/or b) you acquired the illness as a direct result of your job responsibilities. Some workers are at risk for developing occupational illnesses because they work regularly with chemicals. Even if a worker’s job does not put them at risk for illness, they can still develop an illness due to exposure in their work environment. For example, workers can be exposed to toxic substances in an office building, such as asbestos. Although office work is not inherently dangerous and generally does not expose employees to toxic substances, any illness resulting from asbestos exposure would qualify as an occupational illness. The employer could also be held liable for additional damages if their negligence is the reason for asbestos in the building.

The Law Offices of Andrew B. Shin legal team can assist you throughout the progression of your workers’ compensation case. If you have been injured or developed an illness on the job, contact us today.

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