Workers’ compensation isn’t just for on-the-job injuries: the Ohio workers’ compensation system is also designed to provide for victims of occupational disease.
For example, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you are suffering from an illness or condition caused by on-the-job exposure to:
- Dust, gases, or fumes
- Toxic substances
- Extreme temperatures
- Extreme noise or pressure
- Infections and organisms
- Physical vibrations
- Physical movement in constant repetition
However, those suffering from occupational illness often face higher hurdles than the typical workers’ compensation claimant. According to the Center for Public Integrity, Ohio workers’ compensation claims associated with an occupational disease are three times as likely to be denied as injury-related claims.
And, two earlier studies published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine concluded that most workers suffering from an occupational disease or repetitive stress injuries never file a claim. In short, fewer victims of occupational disease pursue workers’ compensation benefits, and fewer of those who apply are approved. That’s why it’s important to have a qualified advocate on your side.
Many occupational disease claims are ultimately approved, and the cash benefits and access to medical care can be life-altering for a person debilitated by the consequences of occupational exposure. An attorney experienced in occupational disease claims can be your best resource when it comes to navigating the obstacles associated with this type of claim. But, time is of the essence. The sooner you schedule a free consultation, the better.
Obstacles to Occupational Disease Claims
One significant way in which occupational disease claims differ from on-the-job injury claims is that the Ohio workers’ compensation statute sets forth a schedule of compensable illnesses and the types of exposures that may classify those conditions as an occupational disease. While the statute does provide for compensation for unscheduled illnesses that meet the statutory definition of occupational disease, providing that such conditions are occupational can be difficult.
For example, emphysema is not scheduled but may be compensable. However, proving that a disease such as emphysema is an occupational disease in a specific case can be challenging. Many environmental factors and lifestyle choices can contribute to a disease like emphysema, and simply demonstrating that the claimant was exposed to a substance or conditions known to cause the disease is not sufficient. Further, workers’ compensation will not pay for diagnostic or preventative measures unless the claim is approved.
Time Limits on Occupational Disease Claims
When an employee suffers a work-related injury, the cause and effect is usually immediately clear. However, a worker who is daily exposed to disease-causing agents may not suffer symptoms for years. Others may experience symptoms, but not make the connection between on-the-job exposure or conditions and the illnesses they suffer—at least, not immediately.
However, the Ohio workers’ compensation system places strict time limits on disease-related claims, and calculation of these timelines can be complicated, creating an opening for employers and workers’ compensation carriers to fight occupational illness claims. Thus, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced Ohio workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.
Consult an Ohio Workers’ Compensation Attorney as Soon as Possible
The workers’ compensation attorneys at Dworken & Bernstein understand the complexities associated with occupational disease claims and are committed to fighting for the rights of workers suffering the effects of occupational exposure. Call 440.946.7656 (Lake County) or 216.861.4211 (Cuyahoga County) to schedule a free consultation.