Most workers' compensation claims arise out of an on-the-job accident. For example, if you trip and fall while at work, or if your hand gets crushed in a piece of machinery. Proving eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits in these cases is often straightforward. However, many workplace injuries are the result of occupational diseases. An occupational disease is a condition that a worker develops—usually over time—as a result of their job. The good news is that if you develop an occupational disease, you are entitled to receive the same workers' compensation benefits available to workers who were injured in on-the-job accidents. The bad news is that these claims are often much more difficult to prove.
At the Olsinski Law Firm, our dedicated North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers have decades of experience successfully obtaining benefits on behalf of injured workers. We ensure that your claim is prepared and submitted correctly the first time, so you don’t need to wait unnecessarily for the benefits you are entitled to.What Occupational Diseases Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
North Carolina workers' compensation laws list specific occupational diseases that make a worker eligible for benefits. These include asbestosis, silicosis, tenosynovitis and synovitis (when caused by employment-related trauma), bursitis, carbon monoxide poisoning and about two dozen others. Many of the enumerated conditions deal with exposure to potentially harmful substances metals, such as anthrax, arsenic, manganese, mercury, phosphorus, brass or zinc.
However, the law also contains a "catch-all" provision which covers any condition “which is proven to be due to causes and conditions which are characteristic of and peculiar to a particular trade, occupation or employment, but excluding all ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is equally exposed outside of the employment.” In Plain English, this means that almost any condition can qualify for benefits, provided the worker suffering from the condition can prove that it was linked to their employment.
Examples of diseases covered under the "catch-all" provision include carpal tunnel syndrome, asthma, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Physical injuries, such as a torn rotator cuff, can also be deemed an occupational disease if they are caused by conditions peculiar to the injured worker's employment.Obtaining Benefits for Occupational Diseases Can Be Challenging
While workers’ compensation benefits are available to those suffering from occupational diseases, these claims are much harder to prove than those involving on-the-job accidents. This is because insurance companies oversee the administration of benefits. An insurance company is motivated to find any reason to deny a claim because then the company gets to keep the employer’s insurance premium and avoid paying out benefits.
Thus, insurance companies often deny claims based on occupational diseases, forcing workers to prove that the condition was related to their work. In these situations, medical evidence is often required to prove that a claim is compensable. For example, at the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, we routinely call on expert medical witnesses to submit affidavits or testify that a client’s condition was due to their work.Schedule a Free, No-Obligation Consultation with a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer at the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC
If you or a loved one was recently diagnosed with what you believe to be is an occupational disease, reach out to the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, for immediate assistance. We have senior attorneys standing by, ready to discuss your case and offer our honest assessment. From the moment you bring us on your team, we will begin gathering the evidence you need to submit a compelling claim. We will also deal with your employer’s insurance company, meaning you can focus on your recovery. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation* with a Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer, give us a call at 704-405-2580. You can also reach one of our Concord workers’ compensation lawyers at 704-918-4747.