An occupational disease is a disease or illness that develops because of a particular type of work or working conditions. For a disease to be classified as an occupational disease, it must be developed due to exposure in the workplace. There must be a causal relationship between the exposure and the disease. If not, that disease cannot be considered occupational.
Some common examples of occupational diseases include:
- Asthma and other respiratory diseases
- Hearing loss
- Tennis elbow
- Skin conditions
- Bloodborne diseases
Some of the toxic substances and hazardous materials that have been linked with occupational illnesses and occupational diseases include:
- Loud Noises
- Welding Rod Fumes
These diseases can often result from work-related activities or exposure such as heavy lifting work, a noisy work environment, working with hazardous substances, working in activities that require lifting arms above shoulder height, work that involves repetitive movements and other similar factors.
It is a fact that there are many occupations that are considered high-risk. This means that the probability of workers being injured while on the job or being exposed to chemicals and/or substances that may be harmful to them is much higher.
Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation in Georgia for My Occupational Disease?
Occupational diseases are eligible for compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Act in GA. However, there are certain conditions that must be met before a worker can make such a claim:
- The occupational disease must be a direct consequence of the worker’s employment and must have developed during the course of employment. The worker has to demonstrate that there were hazard characteristics specific to their job that caused the disease.
- The occupational disease is classified and recognized as an industrial injury or occupational disease. If the disease is not included, it may still be eligible if there is enough medical evidence to prove this fact.
In Georgia, the worker has to file a compensation claim for occupational disease within one year after becoming aware of this fact. If there are circumstances that hinder this knowledge or if there is a legitimate reason why the employee could not file such a claim within this time-frame, the State Board of Workers’ Compensation may consider the circumstances. However, any such claim filed after seven years of exposure to the hazard of knowledge of such a disease will not be eligible for compensation.
If a worker’s claim for occupational disease is approved, the worker will receive medical benefits to cover any treatment costs and also temporary or permanent disability benefits depending on the level of disability and the worker’s earning capacity.
How Can I Get Approved for My Claim?
It is not always easy to get approval for occupational disease-related claims. That is because it is often difficult to prove a cause and effect relationship in such circumstances. For a worker to get approval, they may be required to provide medical evidence that clearly shows that their particular illness is related to work-related circumstances and not any other external factors. If the evidence is not sufficient enough, the claim may be denied.
As per the State Board of Workers’ Compensation in Georgia, the worker or the worker’s dependents must prove the following to the Board:
- That there exists a direct causal connection between the worker’s disease and the conditions under which the worker performs his duties;
- That the disease is a natural consequence of exposure to elements that are directly related to the employment and are responsible for the development of illness;
- That the disease is not due to any other exposure that the worker may have been subject to outside the employment;
- That the disease is not an ordinary disease to which any normal individual is exposed to but is, in fact, specific to the workers’ employment;
- That the disease has its origin in a risk that is connected to the worker’s employment and is thus a natural consequence of that origin.
Occupational diseases are quite common in certain sectors including mining, construction, welding, agriculture, and aerospace and food sector. There are also other occupations that expose workers to noise, fumes, fibers and other hazardous elements that could result in the development of such diseases.
It is often a challenge to prove occupational diseases. If you break a leg or lose your eyesight, there is clear and specific evidence which cannot be disputed. However, in cases where the disease is not something that the worker develops within a day or two, it can be difficult to claim that it is work-related. However, there is an official list of occupational disease that has been proven, through medical evidence and literature, to be a direct consequence of work-related activity and exposure. Even then employers can dispute and contest workers who file a claim for compensation for diseases that they believe are a direct consequence of their employment.
If you are a worker in Georgia, and if you believe that the disease you have developed is due to the work that you do and the work environment that you are exposed to, you can file a claim with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. Even if your employer has already indicated that they do not believe your claim and that they will challenge it in court, you do not have to be intimidated. As a member of the labor force and as a human being, you have a right to fight for what you believe to be true. Nobody should suffer because of the negligence of another person.
Consult with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you have developed an occupational disease, you have the right to seek medical care for it. We all realize that such diseases cannot be cured overnight and require consistent and quality care. Everybody does not have the financial capability to pay for such medical care, and that is why we at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers believe that you have the right to be compensated. You have a right to receive benefits that will help you meet your medical expenses and you also have the right to claim for damages that you incur because of your inability to go back to work or your inability to go back to the same job that you were doing before the disease made it impossible for you to continue. Call us today, and one of our experienced workers comp lawyers will be able to help you get the compensation you deserve.