It is easy for workers, employers, and insurance companies to clearly define an injury that resulted from a specific accident at work. Slip and fall, machine accident, lifting a heavy object, to name a few.
What is harder to grasp are the conditions that develop over time as a result of work activity or exposure. These conditions are known as “occupational diseases.” To be considered an occupational disease (OD), there must be some recognizable link between the disease or condition and some distinctive feature of the worker’s job. Occupational disease claims include, but are not limited to, asbestosis, exposure to chemicals on the job, back injuries that develop over time, hand and wrist conditions as a result of repetitive work or frequent typing (carpal tunnel syndrome), and hearing loss due to noise exposure. Often times because an injured worker cannot report a particular date or incident that caused their injury, employers and insurance companies have a harder time accepting these types of claims.
Injured workers with OD claims receive the same types of benefits as those in traditional accident claims. However, timely reporting of the condition and establishing the “date of disablement” is a very different process with different rules and timelines. If you feel, or a medical professional tells you, that your condition is likely related to your work activity or environment, your employer should be immediately notified and a claim should be filed.
Contact Zea Proukou for more specific details about these types of claims and what to do if you have an occupational disease.