Exposure to Diseases – Grounds for Workers’ Compensation?
Many people think of slip-and-fall cases or construction hazards regarding workers’ compensation. However, clear and present injuries are not the only grounds for workers’ compensation claims. If you recently came into contact with a harmful disease, you need to file a Virginia workers’ compensation claim and seek medical attention.
Many companies that knowingly put their employees in the position of encountering diseases will have procedures in place. However, other companies that see these as unlikely events will not have any instruction for the staff. What happens when an animal bites an employee? What is a nail goes through your shoe?
These issues are not unrealistic and are much more common than you might expect.
Requirements of the Workers’ Compensation Commission
The Workers’ Compensation Commission in Virginia does not cover every possible disease. The disease must be “occupation” and meet various requirements. One such element is that the condition not be within the back, spinal columns, or neck. Additionally, the disease must come directly from work.
Disease is one of the few items that will receive coverage for repetitive trauma. If going to work every day is exposing you to a little bit of toxin that develops over the years into something substantial, you may still have access to a claim.
After you notice the symptoms or have an incident which led directly to a disease, then you need to seek medical attention. The doctor must work within your employer’s insurance network, and they must diagnose you with disease and identify that it’s associated with your work.
An occupational disease claim must start within two years of the diagnosis. However, some long-term or slow-developing diseases have different limitations. Asbestosis for one has a different limitation period, and in some cases, you may have a condition very unique to your job.
Additionally, consider the fact that payment under your claim will only retroact for 90 days from the date you filed.
What is Disease?
A disease is any condition which is harmful to your normal state. While that seems like a very general definition, it’s generally on purpose. For example, Asbestosis is a disease, as is “black lung” and rabies. These three diseases share very little in common. They come with wildly different symptoms, you don’t contract them the same way, and the treatments are all different.
However, they are all diseases because your body is no longer normal. What common diseases are present in workplaces? You’d be surprised.
From diseases brought on by mold, rabies from animals and even the plague. The people most at risk are those who work with mammals, insects, or in construction positions where you may be exposed to materials or mold.
Is Exposure to Diseases a Job Hazard?
For some people, disease is a genuine job hazard. As mentioned above, people working in situations where they encounter animals or insects are at very high risk. For example, animal control experts know that going into a house to eradicate an opossum family could lead to leptospirosis. The transmission does not always require a bite or scratch. The example of leptospirosis here is often transmitted from the presence of the animal’s waste.
Other diseases that are more commonly known to the public, such as Asbestosis are still relevant risks in many jobs. Those working in the automotive or railroad industry are at risk of this disease among those in construction.
When you consider the factors involved, many people are at risk of some type of occupational disease. The issue is that many conditions are slow-building. The disease often comes from working in the industry, not so much working under that particular employer.
As a job hazard, employers within high-risk industries should have checks in place. Safety gear should be a top priority as well as immediate medical attention.
Contact a Virginia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you have a disease that was brought on by work, you have the right to a workers’ compensation claim. An employer who was not prepared to handle these types of injuries has gaps in their policies. After noticing the symptoms of an injury, be sure to meet with a doctor that is within your employer’s insurance network.
A Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer can offer guidance. Contact the law offices of Ashcraft & Gerel for a review of your workers’ compensation claim. Diseases are often difficult to process on a claim as doctors will often take their time with a diagnosis. Don’t let a doctor dragging their feet impact your claim.