When it comes to workers’ compensation claims, there are two categories: 1) accidental injuries, and 2) occupational diseases. For the purpose of this article, we are going to discuss occupational diseases and how they factor into the workers’ compensation claim process in New York.
“What is an occupational disease exactly?” It is a disease that specifically arises from the conditions that a worker is exposed to. For instance, a firefighter can be exposed to smoke while fighting fires. A baker can be exposed to “dust” from flour. An asbestos removal expert can be exposed to asbestos. Or, a coal miner can be exposed to coal or loud explosions, while someone who works at a chemical plant can be exposed to toxic chemicals. You get the idea.
CAN I GET BENEFITS IF I HAVE AN OCCUPATIONAL DISEASE?
Occupational diseases are no laughing matter; they can lead to cancer, blindness, skin conditions, nerve damage, organ damage, and serious life-threatening complications. Some occupational diseases are so serious that they are fatal.
If an employee suffers from an occupational disease, they are entitled to the same benefits as someone who was injured in a workplace accident. So, the worker who has upper respiratory problems due to working with chemicals will be able to get the same benefits as the worker who hurt his back while lifting a heavy object. However, workers with occupational diseases have more time to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers with occupational diseases must file a claim:
- Within two years from the date the worker became disabled; or
- Within two years from the date the worker discovered or should have discovered the disease was work-related.
It is not uncommon for a worker to become disabled from an occupational disease, but he or she does not miss any work. In this case, the Workers’ Compensation Law Judge will look at the facts of the worker’s case and decide on the “date of disablement.”