Most people are aware that workers are susceptible to being injured on the job, but fewer people are aware that workers are just as susceptible, if not more, to developing an occupational disease as a result of their employment.
What’s the Difference Between an Occupational Injury and An Occupational Disease?
Occupational injuries usually occur at a definite time and place. For example, when you cut yourself on a piece of machinery at work, or slip and fall on the shop floor and break your arm. Furthermore, you may be driving the company delivery van when your vehicle is struck by another and you are injured in some way.
On the other hand, occupational diseases do not happen at a definitive time and place. They most often develop over years and are caused by repetitive motion or long-term exposure to hazardous materials or toxic chemicals in the workplace. For example, a data entry clerk who is constantly typing and develops carpal tunnel syndrome, or a chemical factory worker who develops lung disease after inhaling toxic fumes for many years.
Many occupational diseases and their cause are well documented. Diseases like asbestosis, mesothelioma, silicosis, manganese poisoning, lung diseases, and various forms of leukemia are directly linked to workplace or occupational exposure. Other occupational diseases are still being diagnosed.
Can I Be Compensated For An Occupational Disease?
Regardless of how much we know about a particular occupational disease and the hazardous materials or chemical substances that cause it, if you have developed an occupational injury as a result of the environment in which you work, you are entitled under the law to the same benefits as someone who has sustained a work-related injury:
- Replacement of lost of wages
- The cost of medical treatment
- Rehabilitation assistance
- Travel expenses associated with receiving medical treatment
- Compensation for any permanent impairment that you suffer
The Trouble With Occupational Disease Claims
In order to claim an occupational disease, you must prove that there is a causal connection between your work environment and the disease you have developed.
This can be challenging if you suffer from conditions such as asthma or hearing loss, which can also be caused by other everyday factors.
Furthermore, there are strict time limits for filing a workers compensation claim.
In New Jersey, you must generally file a claim within two years of the date that a work-related injury occurred, or within two years of the date that you knew or should have known that your illness or disease was work-related.
If you are unsure early on that your condition is work-related, or if the disease was slow to develop, you could be left with very little time to file a claim
For this reason, if you suspect that you have developed an occupational disease as a result of your work environment, it is important that you speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.
Contact An Experienced New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you believe that you or a loved one has developed an occupational disease, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you evaluate your case and address any questions and concerns you may have. For more information, contact a qualified workers’ compensation attorney today for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. The law limits the time you have to file a claim, so call today.