What are my rights if I was exposed to disease at work?

Workers in industries such as health care, medical research and construction are often exposed to disease at work. These diseases can lead to debilitating medical conditions that cause pain and financial strain. Sufferers of diseases spend an extensive amount of money on hospital bills and lost wages. If you were exposed to disease at work, then you may be entitled to compensation under the law.

Your injury may be covered under workers' compensation. Examples of diseases covered by workers' compensation include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Lead poisoning
  • Chemical exposure
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Asbestosis

Occupational disease

The ailments listed above are considered occupational diseases. These types of diseases are covered by workers' compensation because they are caused by conditions characteristic to a certain trade or occupation. For example, a construction worker who tears down old structures may be consistently exposed to asbestos, leading to asbestosis or lung cancer. This worker's injury would be compensated. On the other hand, an office manager who develops lung cancer may not be able to link the disease to their occupation. This worker's injury would not be covered by workers' compensation.

Occupational diseases are not limited to what the average person may consider a disease. Injuries caused by consistent exposure to a hazard at work can be considered occupational diseases. Workers' compensation covers occupational diseases such as blisters due to use of appliances or tools, and hearing loss caused by harmful noise. Hearing loss is a major concern for construction workers dealing with heavy machinery on a daily basis. Occupational diseases can even include back injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome. These types of injuries can take years, even decades to develop.

Obtaining your rightful compensation

You will need to prove that your workplace environment significantly contributed to the condition to obtain compensation. First you will need to visit a physician for a diagnosis if you have not already done so. An attorney specializing in workers' compensation can help gather supporting evidence regarding the cause of your injury. They may ask you to put together a list of duties at your job that you believe contributed to the exposure. Once you have significant evidence assembled, your attorney will help you file a claim to receive the compensation that you are owed

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