Occupational diseases—illnesses and disorders directly caused by your job—can be debilitating, potentially affecting your ability to earn a living.
Workers’ compensation insurance typically covers these conditions just as it would a workplace injury. However, proving that your job caused an illness can be difficult in many cases. The insurance company could deny your claim, leaving you with no way to cover your medical bills or lost wages.
If you believe your job or workplace caused your illness, a Florida workers’ compensation lawyer can help you fight for the benefits you rightfully deserve.
What Is an Occupational Disease?
The Florida labor statutes define an occupational disease as “a disease which is due to causes and conditions which are characteristic of and peculiar to a particular trade, occupation, process, or employment.”
The “black lung” disease suffered by coal miners is a familiar example, as is the development of lung cancer from working with asbestos. However, not all occupational diseases result from exposure to a substance or chemical. Repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome may also be considered an occupation-related disorder in some cases.
Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Occupational Diseases?
Florida law requires workers’ comp insurance to cover occupational disorders and diseases (with the stated exception of tuberculosis for state hospital employees). This means you are entitled to receive the same workers’ compensation benefits for a job-related illness as you would for a workplace injury.
Workers’ comp is obligated to pay for medical treatment related to your condition. Insurance must also cover a portion of your wages if your disease prevents you from working. Workers’ comp must also pay for any disability or wrongful death that results from an occupational disease or illness.
If you had a pre-existing condition that worsened due to your job, workers’ comp is also obligated to cover you. You will not have coverage, however, if a pre-existing condition causes your occupational illness to worsen.
How Do You Prove You Have an Occupational Disease?
Proving you suffered injuries in a workplace accident is fairly straightforward. Proving that you have a job-related disease can pose more of a challenge.
Workers’ compensation lawyers typically support an occupational illness claim with medical records, testing results, and opinions from doctors, surgeons, or other medical practitioners. Your workers’ comp insurance will likely require you to undergo an exam and any necessary testing from one of their doctors.
Because the insurance company wants to pay as little as possible for any workers’ comp claim, they might reject your claim or attempt to undervalue your benefits. If that occurs, a workers’ comp attorney can help. Time is of the essence for filing an occupational disease claim, however. You only have 30 days from the date of your diagnosis to notify your employer.
Contact a Florida Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
Don’t risk losing your right to workers’ comp benefits for your job-related illness. The workers’ compensation attorneys of Rue & Ziffra can help with preparing and submitting your claim. Or if you have already received a denial, we can assist you with an appeal. With almost 200 years of combined experience, we know how to get results for our clients. Contact us today for a free workers’ compensation case review.