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Does Workers’ Comp Cover Work-Related Illnesses?

Work-related illnesses are a serious concern for many employees. From respiratory issues due to exposure to hazardous materials to repetitive strain injuries, these illnesses can significantly impact an individual’s health and ability to work. One important question that often arises is whether workers’ compensation covers such illnesses. The short answer is yes, but there are nuances to consider.

What Types of Illnesses are Covered?

Workers’ compensation typically covers a wide range of work-related illnesses, including but not limited to:

Occupational Diseases: Illnesses that are directly caused by workplace exposures, such as lung diseases from exposure to asbestos or chemical toxins.

Repetitive Motion Injuries: Conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, which can develop over time due to repeated motions required by a job.

Mental Health Conditions:  In some cases, workers’ compensation may cover mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, or PTSD.  It is much more likely to be covered in the case of a physical injury leading to depression, PTSD, and/or anxiety. When mental stress causes a physical injury like ulcers, it can be compensable as well.  In limited cases, PTSD is covered even when the employee is not actually physically injured.

Infectious Diseases: In certain professions, such as healthcare, workers’ compensation may cover infectious diseases contracted on the job.

How to Prove an Illness Stems from Your Work

Proving that an illness is work-related can be challenging but is crucial for a successful workers’ compensation claim. Here are some steps to take:

Medical Documentation: Get a thorough medical evaluation and documentation linking your illness to your work activities or environment.

Work History: Provide a detailed work history showing how your job duties or work environment contributed to the development of your illness

Witness Statements: If possible, obtain statements from coworkers or supervisors who can attest to the conditions that led to your illness.

Expert Testimony: In complex cases, expert testimony from medical professionals or industrial hygienists may be necessary to establish a causal link.

What if It’s a Long-Term Illness?

For long-term illnesses that develop gradually over time, such as certain types of cancer or degenerative conditions, the process of proving a work-related connection can be more complex. It may require detailed medical records spanning a significant period and expert opinions to establish causation.

Why You Should Contact Us

If you believe you have a work-related illness, it’s essential to seek legal guidance. Harvey & Carpenter, Attorneys at Law, are experienced in handling workers’ compensation cases. We offer free consultations to discuss your case and determine the best course of action. Contact us today at 507-779-7529 to schedule your consultation. Remember, time limits apply to filing workers’ compensation claims, so don’t delay in seeking help.