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What is a Workers’ Compensation Occupational Disease Claim?

Many different kinds of workplace injuries can result in successful workers’ compensation claims in Ohio. Generally speaking, as long as an injury or illness arises out of your employment and happens on the job, it is typically compensable through the Ohio workers’ compensation system.

While many people often think about workplace injuries as a single traumatic event that results in immediate injury, it is critical to keep in mind that occupational diseases also may be compensable through the Ohio workers’ compensation system.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) specifically defines an occupational disease as a work-related exposure that has a harmful effect on the worker. Unlike workplace accidents that result in traumatic injuries, occupational diseases usually develop over a period of time.

We want to provide you with additional information about occupational disease claims, and to help you understand whether you could be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim.

Occupational Diseases Happen Because of Exposure Over Time

The BWC clarifies that work-related exposure to any of the following can result in an occupational disease — harmful dust, gases, fumes, chemicals, substances, extreme changes in temperatures, extreme noise, extreme pressure, physical vibrations, physical movement in constant repetition, radioactive rays, infections, organisms, and/or radiation.

In order to be eligible to file a claim for an occupational disease under Ohio workers’ compensation law, the worker must have received a medical diagnosis from a licensed healthcare provider.

There is a long list of specifically identified occupational diseases that can make a worker eligible to seek workers’ compensation, but it is even possible for some occupational diseases that are not listed on the schedule to be eligible for compensation.

For example, carpal tunnel, chronic bronchitis and emphysema are not conditions specifically listed in the law as occupational diseases, but in some circumstances, being medically diagnosed with one of those diseases can mean that the worker is eligible for workers’ compensation.

Mere Exposure is Not Enough to Seek Workers’ Compensation Benefits

It is extremely important for workers to understand that mere exposure to a harmful element (such as those listed above), without a medically diagnosed occupational disease, is not enough to be eligible for workers’ compensation. In order to be eligible, a doctor must make a medical diagnosis of your condition and indicate that it is related to your work exposure.

Occupational Disease Claims Have Unique Time Limitations

If you intend to file a claim for benefits after being diagnosed with an occupational disease, it is critical to determine the specific date of your disability and the time limits for filing your claim since these types of illnesses are distinct from claims involving traumatic injuries.

While traumatic injury claims have a one year statute of limitations, , occupational disease claims may be filed within two years after your disability due to the occupational disease began, or within six months after being medically diagnosed with the occupational disease if you have had the disability for more than two years.

To be clear, if you have been suffering from a disability caused by an occupational disease for a number of years but only recently were diagnosed (i.e., if the two-year time window has closed since the disability began), then you must file your claim within six months of receiving your medical diagnosis.

Even if you think that you are beyond this window, you should consult an attorney, as under some circumstances, legal arguments can be made that a claim has been timely filed. The time limits for filing an occupational disease can be complicated and a workers’ compensation attorney can review your situation and is the best person to advise you.

Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Ohio

Do you have questions about whether your work-place exposure could be compensable or do you need assistance seeking workers’ compensation benefits for an occupational disease? One of the dedicated Ohio workers’ compensation attorneys at our firm is here to assist you. Contact Dworken & Bernstein for more information.

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