What is an Occupational Illness?October 18, 2021
Occupational illnesses have long-term repercussions for you and your family. Unfortunately, employers and insurers will fight to prove the illness had other causes so they can deny you workers’ compensation benefits, making the cases drag out. Meanwhile, you suffer and are unable to work.
At Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers, we help you fight for the compensation you deserve from your employer.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines an occupational illness as any condition that results from continual exposure to tasks or an environment at the workplace. Usually, exposure to toxic chemicals or physical or biological factors causes illnesses to develop.
Physical ailments are also considered occupational illnesses if they occur through stress caused by repetitive movements required to complete work-related tasks.
Often, these illnesses involve missed work and wages, extensive medical treatment, long-term care, or even death. As a result, you can file for workers’ compensation benefits and temporary or permanent disability for wage replacement. Sadly, companies often refuse to take responsibility for your illness.
The most common reasons insurers deny occupational illness claims include:
- The illness wasn’t connected to the employment
- The person lied about the illness
- The illness is a pre-existing condition the person had before they were hired
Some common occupational illnesses include:
- Infections, including those due to mold in the workplace
- Loss of hearing due to exposure to loud noises
- Overuse issues
- Carpal tunnel
- Lateral Epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
- Stress fractures
- Chemicals like formaldehyde
- Respiratory issues
- Asbestosis, a chronic lung condition caused by breathing in asbestos fibers
- Industrial asthma
- Mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer associated with asbestos exposure
- Skin issues
- Contact dermatitis, an itchy rash resulting from exposure to an irritant or allergen
- Skin cancer
What Isn’t Covered?
In general, the following diseases are never included as occupational illnesses because the link between the condition and the workplace is unclear:
- Degenerative disk diseases
- Heart disease
- Mental illnesses
- Renovascular disease
- Spinal stenosis
However, the state of Louisiana acknowledges that firefighting can cause heart disease and cancer, so individuals in that profession are allowed to file for compensation for those conditions.
Employees in some industries are more likely than others to suffer occupational illnesses. The high occupational illness rates in these sectors are due to chemical exposure, hazardous working conditions, or repetitive strains:
- Aerospace workers
- Construction workers
- Cotton, flax, or hemp workers
- Flavorings and popcorn workers
- Workers exposed to gasoline or diesel fumes
- Workers exposed to noisy equipment
- Workers exposed to nylon fibers
- Lab technicians exposed to illnesses studied in the lab
If you believe you are the victim of an occupational illness, you may be eligible for benefits. In Louisiana, you can file a claim for the following damages:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation bills
- Mileage to cover travel to receive care related to your illness
- Death benefits
The amount of compensation you receive depends on the severity of the illness and its impact on your everyday life.
In Louisiana, you have the burden of proof for linking your illness to your employment, which is why having an attorney with knowledge about occupational illness claims is so important.
If you are seeking damages for an occupational illness, you will need the following:
- Medical testimony stating that you are or were ill
- Medical testimony saying that the illness was caused directly by your employment and no other possible source
According to Louisiana law, you must file for compensation within one year of the following:
- Manifestation of symptoms
- Knowledge of an illness
- Awareness of a link between employment and illness
If you seek occupational illness death benefits after a loved one’s death, you must file within one year of the date of death or awareness of a link between employment and death.
If you are suffering an occupational illness in the state of Louisiana, you aren’t alone. We know your case is as unique as you are, and we will help you stand up to your employer for the damages you are owed, even if we have to go to court.
Contact the Louisiana workers’ compensation attorneys at Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers today for your free consultation.