Workers’ Compensation When You Get An Illness, Disease Or Infection At Work
When we think of injuries on the job, we think of an actual injury. Something that happens, in a sudden or acute way, that causes us an immediate injury. But not all work related injuries are like that. Sometimes, and especially in certain professions, the main threat is not an actual accident at work—it’s the potential to contract a disease or illness.
Diseases are Covered
Certain professions have a higher risk of disease contraction than others. Florida law says that workers’ compensation will cover workers for diseases that are contracted as a natural characteristic of the job or profession.
So, for example, if you are a secretary and you get sick at work, that’s just an illness that has nothing to do with your job, even though you contracted the illness at work. On the other hand, if you are a teacher, and you get sick, that may be a covered illness, given that kids are often sent to school sick, and people work in close proximity.
To be covered under workers’ compensation, a disease must be one that is specific to, or peculiar to, your trade or occupation. In other words the nature of your work must give you a higher than normal expectation of contracting illness—higher than the general population overall.
Using our example above, a schoolteacher’s work would likely give him or her a higher than expected chance of getting ill, than someone at a traditional office job would have.
A Causal Link
Diseases must be ones that there are studies that demonstrate that the employees’ environment can cause. So, for example, if you work around chemicals and get a respiratory disease, this would be covered under workers’ compensation. However, if you work in an office building that happens to have asbestos in the walls, you may not be covered under workers’ compensation, as the asbestos in the walls is not something that is peculiar to, or related to, your work or job.
Multiple Causes and Pre-Existing Conditions
Often, employees may have underlying conditions or illnesses that are made worse by the condition at work. The disease that you contracted at work must be a major cause of your illness, injury, or disability, to get workers’ compensation. Additionally there may be some reduction in the workers’ compensation payments, where a pre existing injury works along with exposure to disease at work.
Don’t Blow the Deadline
Remember that workers’ compensation claims need to be reported within 30 days. This is easy to remember, when you suffer an actual accident—it’s just 30 days from the accident.
But with an illness, the 30 days starts from the day you were diagnosed with the illness or disease. It can be easy to just ignore or forget that time deadline, but it is important if you feel your disease was caused by a condition at your workplace.
Contact the Tampa workers’ compensation lawyers at Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian today. Schedule a consultation today for help if you have contracted an illness at work, or have a workers’ compensation problem.