Workplace accidents are often the cause of the majority of the misfortunes suffered by employees. However, some result from occupational diseases, and luckily, all states in the U.S. provide coverage for occupational diseases right under the workers’ compensation insurance. It is worth noting that this law varies from state to state, including their benefits. So, it is advised to verify what is applicable in your state.
What Is An Occupational Disease?
An occupational disease is highly dependent on state laws and how they are defined. Some states address occupational disease in their worker’s compensation statute, while others describe them in a standalone occupation disease law. Others, however, rely entirely on the court to consider which disease is covered.
Pennsylvania, for instance, defines occupation disease through a list approach. According to its Occupational Disease Act, there are about 15 conditions that qualify a condition as an occupational disease. Any illness which is not listed is not permitted. Instead of making a list of diseases, they rather stated some parameters used to determine if a condition can be regarded as an occupational disease or not.
The Nature Of Employment
Some workers might qualify for occupational disease due to their job’s nature, while others might not be eligible since they job doesn’t expose them to such a condition. An example is a lab worker who contracted tuberculosis from a bacteria resulting from a tube break. It might qualify as an occupational disease. If another employee contracted the same illness, such as the typist, it wouldn’t be eligible for an occupational disease since their work doesn’t expose them to such a condition.
When a worker develops a specific disease or illness, the employer can prove that such a disease didn’t arise from its employment.
Unlike work-related accidents, an occupational disease tends to develop over some time. For some conditions like silicosis and asbestosis, it might take decades to manifest. In this case, it can be pretty difficult to establish the date of the injury. It could be when the first symptoms appeared or when the employee was first exposed to the disease.
An occupational disease is covered under the employers’ liability insurance and workers’ compensation. They both cover work-related injury by disease. Unlike workers’ compensation covering work-related accidents, employers’ liability insurance covers suits against employers by workers who have suffered occupational disease.
Federal Occupational Disease Laws
The federal government has two occupational disease programs headed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers Compensation. Due to the nature of their job or disease, some workers might qualify for both federal and state workers compensation plans.
If you believe you are a victim of occupational disease, the best line of action is often to hire an experienced attorney with a proven track record of handling such cases. With a formidable legal representative, you will be able to avoid some pitfalls, thereby making it easy to get compensated for your suffering.
Contact Franks & Rechenberg. P.C. Attorneys at Law to help with your case.