Are Occupational Diseases Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation doesn’t only cover on-the-job injuries caused by traumatic accidents and one-time events; it also covers what are known as “occupational diseases.” An occupational disease is an illness or condition that develops due to your working conditions, workplace environment, and/or the type of work you are required to carry out. In order to receive workers’ compensation for an occupational disease, you must show that it developed as a result of your work and not due to outside factors.
If you or someone you love developed an occupational disease or condition, The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC can help you understand your options regarding workers’ compensation, as well as what workers’ comp benefits you may be entitled to receive. We encourage you to reach out to our Atlanta workplace exposure attorneys right away for a free and confidential consultation.
Defining an Occupational Disease
The state of Georgia has strict legal definitions when it comes to determining whether an illness or condition is an occupational disease.
In order to be considered an occupational disease, and therefore compensable under workers’ compensation, your illness or condition must meet the following criteria:
- There is a direct, causal relationship between the illness/condition and your work (including workplace conditions, work-related duties, etc.)
- The illness/condition developed because of workplace exposure to hazardous conditions
- The illness/condition is not one which you could have been significantly exposed to outside of your work/workplace environment
- It is not an “ordinary disease of life” (such as a common cold/flu) which the general public is exposed to
- The origin of the illness/condition is a work-related risk, and the illness/condition developed as a natural result of exposure to that risk
Are Infectious Diseases or Viruses (like COVID-19) Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
With the current coronavirus pandemic putting many essential workers, including health care workers and first responders, at risk, you may be wondering if infectious disease is covered by workers’ compensation, specifically workplace exposure. After all, if you were exposed to COVID-19 while on the job, doesn’t this count as workplace exposure?
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Looking back at the definition of an occupational disease, COVID-19 does not meet the specified requirements; namely, it is nearly impossible to prove that you were exposed to and/or contracted COVID-19 specifically due to your work. Additionally, because the novel coronavirus affects the general public, it is not covered under the state’s definition of an occupational disease.
Examples of Common Occupational Diseases
Certain illnesses and conditions are frequently the result of workplace exposure.
Common examples of occupational diseases include:
- Partial or total hearing loss
- Asbestos exposure/mesothelioma
- Lead poisoning
- Repetitive motion injuries/carpal tunnel syndrome
- Contact dermatitis/skin diseases
- Respiratory illness
- Chemical poisoning
This is not a comprehensive list; many other illnesses and conditions could be considered occupational diseases. If you believe you suffered due to workplace exposure, we encourage you to reach out to an attorney at our firm as soon as possible for help with your workers’ compensation claim.
Request a Free Initial Consultation
Workplace exposure claims tend to be very complex due to the difficult nature of proving your illness or condition was directly caused by or related to your work. It’s important that you work with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can help you file your initial claim, appeal a denied claim, or appeal early termination of benefits.
To learn how our firm can help you, contact us at (770) 741-2825 for a no-cost consultation with one of our workplace exposure lawyers in Atlanta.