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Understanding How Occupational Diseases Are Part Of Workers Compensati

Matt Murphy Mar 5, 2018

Worker’s Compensation cases are made up of a variety of issues. One of the most common types of work-related injury is a physical injury, but some jobs expose workers to harmful substances and over time, a worker can develop an occupational disease as a result of that exposure. The attorneys at Murphy Law Firm in Billings, MT, are experienced in a wide range of worker's compensation cases, and know what it takes to make a successful claim for damages sustained from an occupational disease.

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What Qualifies As An Occupational Disease?

Certain types of jobs put workers at risk of exposure to certain harmful elements. A good example is found in the coal mining field, where miners are exposed to toxic substances and frequently contract “black lung”. Other common occupational diseases are cancer, asthma, lead poisoning, heart and chest issues, skin rashes and other dermatology conditions, respiratory illnesses, and hearing loss in jobs where the noise level is elevated. In order for a disease to be classified as an occupational disease, it must:

  • Have a recognizable link to the job performed,
  • Put the worker at an increased likelihood of contracting the disease as a result of the job, and
  • Be the result of the employer having performed job duties for the benefit of the employer, even if the tasks were not performed in a typical office setting.

When workers are at risk of contracting diseases that they would not face outside of the job, the disease is directly linked to the employment. When this fact is coupled with the fact that the exposure increases the chances of contracting the disease, workers who become ill can demand workers compensation benefits for the disease. In some instances, an employer can be held accountable for aggravation of a pre-existing condition or disease.

What Damages Are Available For Occupational Diseases?

Workers compensation claims are meant to reimburse hurt workers for time and wages lost from missing work due to a work-related injury, compensation for a disability rating, and cover the costs of medical care needed to treat the injury. These damages are available when the injury is physical as well as when the injury is the causation or aggravation of an illness. The key is to link the illness to the job, and show that the illness was contracted by the worker while performing duties that benefit the employer. Unlike cases where a physical injury is present, an occupational disease case contains facts where the actual injury occurs outside of the workplace. Most illnesses take a while to develop, which requires the victim to establish a history of exposure and a connection of that history to the illness. This can be accomplished by medical notes and doctor visits, where a worker has complained of the same symptoms over a period of time. It is also possible to establish this link by demonstrating a pattern of illness among co-workers or reports of the illness within the industry.

Who to Call for Help When You Experience An Occupational Disease

If you have questions about how to qualify for workers compensation benefits for an occupational disease, we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Please contact our office online, or call us today at 406-452-2345.

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