Making Claims for Occupational Diseases: What You Need to Know
Although the term occupational disease somewhat speaks for itself, you might not really understand it. In addition to traumatic accident claims, New Jersey Workers’ Compensation laws allow benefits for different types of on-the-job exposure. If you suspect your illness is related to something at work, you may be able to make an occupational disease exposure claim.
Perhaps the most well-known compensable occupational disease claims concern workers exposed to asbestos. According to the New Jersey Department of Health, asbestos is mined and milled from rock. It is also contained in at least 3,000 different commercial products. Unfortunately, a number of people who work with asbestos become sick with Mesothelioma or cancer. Sadly, many may die as a result of the exposure.
The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act offers some guidance as to what is considered a compensable occupational disease. A breakdown of the definition contained in NJSA 34:15-31 includes:
- Disease arises out of and in the course of the worker’s employment
- Causes and conditions are or were characteristic of or peculiar to a particular trade, occupation, process or place of employment
- Benefits will not be applicable for the deterioration of a tissue, organ or part of the body related to the natural aging process
Different Types of Occupational Diseases
All things considered, it’s easy to see how exposure to hazardous materials could cause someone to become sick. However, other types of injuries can result from something such as repetitive motion. Here are some examples of occupational disease claims that may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits:
- Repetitive lifting and bending, resulting in a myriad of injuries
- Exposure to toxic materials causing asthma, cancer or another lung disease
- Repetitive wrist movements resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome
- Noise-induced hearing loss
- Occupational skin diseases
- Lead poisoning
These are just some examples of work-related exposure that can result in occupational disease or injury. Although many workers affected by occupational illness are in construction or manufacturing fields, other types of employees may also suffer ill-effects. For example, a hairdresser or secretary may find that repetitive hand motions subject them to carpal tunnel.
Some people are under the impression that a two-year statute of limitations applies to all workers’ compensation claims. Although this may be true for some traumatic accidents, claim time limits are different for those who are diagnosed with diseases that are related to their employment.
The statute of limitations for occupational diseases starts from the date you discovered or should have known that your work likely caused your illness. For example, you work with an assortment of chemicals. You develop a skin disease, however, it does not appear until sometime after your exposure. Ultimately, the treating doctor tells you that he believes your condition is related to the substances you worked within the course of your employment.
As soon as you have this information, you should meet with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Although the statute of limitations most likely starts to run from the date of discovery, you’ll want a clear understanding of the claims process.
At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we have helped injured workers for nearly three decades. Not sure if you can make a claim? There’s no cost to meet with us. Contact us to set up an appointment as soon as possible.