Most workers’ compensation claims arise out of an injury by accident. Some claims, however, arise from a disease contracted by a worker as a result of their employment. If you contract a compensable occupational disease, you are entitled to receive the same workers’ compensation benefits available to workers who suffer an injury by accident.
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act lists specific occupational diseases. Examples of specific occupational diseases listed by the Workers’ Compensation Act include asbestosis, silicosis, tenosynovitis caused by trauma in employment, and carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Act also contains a “catch-all” provision which covers any disease 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 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.
Insurance companies tend to deny occupational disease claims and force an injured worker to prove compensability. Medical evidence is often required to prove a compensable occupational disease claim. Your medical providers will likely have to be deposed. Other experts, such as an ergonomic expert, may have to be retained and deposed.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you meet your legal burden for establishing a compensable occupational disease claim. Contact the Olsinski Law Firm for a free and confidential consultation if you believe you have contracted an occupational disease as a result of your job.