Workers’ Compensation & Occupational Disease
Most of the time, when one thinks of workers’ compensation, they think of a worker experiencing a sudden injury on the job, such as a fall or being harmed by a machine. In truth, a significant number of Florida workers’ compensation claims come from what are known as occupational diseases. An occupational disease is one developed specifically due to “causes and conditions … of a particular trade, occupation, process, or employment,” not merely a condition that happens to get worse while one is employed. If you believe that you may have a workers’ compensation claim based on an occupational disease, you have the right to file.
No “Ordinary Diseases Of Life”
Florida law regarding occupational disease is fairly strict, explicitly excluding “ordinary diseases of life” unless a showing can be made that that condition occurs more frequently in your profession than it does for the general public. The disease may be caused by exposure to a substance, or by repeated movements required by one’s job – both carpal tunnel syndrome and mesothelioma are examples of occupational diseases, despite being caused by very different factors.
There are several potential examples of occupational disease that one might develop, depending on the nature of their work. Most will be covered under workers’ compensation, with rare exceptions – one of the more notable being an occupational disease that is not the major contributing cause of a worker’s injury. In order for a work injury to merit workers’ compensation benefits, the injured worker must show that it was the major contributing cause of their incapacity – if it is not, they are not entitled to benefits for harm that did not actually happen on the job.
Follow Similar Procedures
While an occupational disease is very different from a sudden injury, the procedure for filing a workers’ compensation claim is very similar in both cases. It is necessary to inform your employer of your diagnosis within 90 days, as opposed to within 30 days for a singular injury, before filing your claim. You must be able to show that the work injury was the major contributing cause of your temporary (or permanent) disability, rather than any other complaint or past injury.
It is important to gather as much evidence as possible, from medical records to any information about how the injury occurred. If your claim is denied, it is possible to appeal, but it can be a time-consuming and difficult process to do so. Enlisting a knowledgeable attorney at the start of the claims process can ensure you have help in shouldering the legal load while you try to focus on physical and/or emotional recovery.
Contact An Orlando Workers’ Compensation Attorney
An occupational disease can be difficult to handle simply because it is more likely to linger – it is easier to manage an injury when the recovery has a finite end. This is less likely with occupational disease, and it can make the legal process of obtaining compensation more difficult to handle. An Orlando workers’ compensation attorney from the Hornsby Law Group can help to answer your questions about the legal process and ensure your rights are protected. Call our office today for a free consultation.