Occupational disease claims fall under the umbrella of workers compensation. An experienced Columbus workers compensation attorney knows that not all work related injuries and conditions result from a sudden trauma. In many cases, workers end up suffering from debilitating conditions as a result of prolonged exposure to a hazardous environment. This kind of condition is called an occupational disease. As it cannot be related to a precise moment and a precise incident, many sick workers find it hard to win the workers comp benefits they deserve.
However, an experienced workers comp attorney in Ohio can help you prove that your current condition is a direct result of overexertion or exposure to various substances at your workplace. We will guide you and assist you through the entire process of filing your occupational disease claim and winning the maximum compensation benefits you deserve.
What Is the Definition of Occupational Disease and What Does It Cover?
Not any condition qualifies as an occupational disease, regardless whether you believe that you acquired it as a result of your work. The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) defines an occupational disease as “a repeated work-related exposure” to various hazards resulting in specific conditions, with the condition of the existence of a causal relationship between the exposure and the condition.
The complete list of these hazards and conditions is listed in the Ohio Revised Code Section 4123.68. Some of the most frequent types of exposures resulting in an occupational disease are:
- Dust, gases and fumes
- Chemicals and toxic substances
- Extreme temperature variations
- Loud noises
- Pressure variations
- Physical vibrations
- Radioactive rays and radiation
- Use of repetitive movements
- Infections and organisms.
This list is not exhaustive. A Columbus workers compensation attorney can help you prove that various conditions, such as emphysema and bronchitis, qualify as an occupational disease.
The First Condition for Filing an Occupational Disease Claim
Using the BWC definition of occupational disease as guidelines, the workers comp attorney in Ohio must prove a causal link between your disease and the hazardous condition at the workplace.
In order to do so, your claim must show with clear evidence that:
- You have a disease diagnosed by a healthcare professional
- Your disease was caused by exposure to a hazard
- You were exposed to this hazard primarily at the workplace, not at home or someplace else
- You are unable to work because of this disease.
Thus, it is important to remember that you will not receive any compensation for diagnostic, tests or treatments for your disease unless the claim is allowed. Therefore, you need to contact a Columbus workers compensation attorney as soon as possible after you believe that you suffer from an occupational disease in order to follow the correct procedure.
What You Have to Do If you Suffer from an Occupational Disease
Although you will receive personalized advice from your lawyer, it is useful to know the typical steps for filing an occupational disease successfully. Thus, you need to do the following:
1. Report Your Illness to Your Direct Supervisor
As soon as you experience symptoms, you should inform your supervisor that you are ill and you believe that the condition is workplace related. This is just an initial verbal report and serves to establish the fact that you did not wait until the condition got worse.
2. Complete a Written Report and Retain a Copy
You will also have to fill in a standardized report form. You will keep a copy which will be later on added to your occupational disease claim.
3. Get Diagnosed by a Doctor
Any occupational disease must be diagnosed by a doctor. When you go for tests and diagnostic, you must tell the doctor in detail about the hazards at your workplace.
Please note that, according to BWC rules, you will need to undergo an examination by a qualified specialist for the following conditions:
- Cardiovascular, pulmonary or respiratory diseases
- Coal miners’ pneumoconiosis
- Any condition of the respiratory tract resulting from exposure to dust.
4. File an Occupational Disease Claim
A Columbus workers compensation attorney can help you file your claim on time. In this specific case, the deadlines can be confusing for the average person. The Bureau of Workers Compensation states that you must file a claim within:
- Two years after the disability due to disease began, OR
- A longer period that must not exceed six months after the occupational disease was diagnosed by a licensed physician.
These deadlines get even more complicated by accepted terms for determining the date of disability. The BWC outlines three possibilities:
- The date when the condition was diagnosed as an occupational disease
- The date when the injured worker first received medical treatment for the condition
- The date when the injured worker first quit work due to the medical condition.
For this reason, as soon as you need medical care for a disease that you believe to be workplace related, you should also contact a workers comp attorney in Ohio. Just as the doctor is qualified to treat your condition, the lawyer is qualified to help you win your workers comp benefits.
5. Don’t Let the Employer Pay You Directly for Treatment
Many workers compromise their right to file a workers comp claim for occupational disease by allowing the employer to pay for their initial treatment. You will most likely be asked to sign a document stating that you waive any future claims.
Many occupational diseases result in a permanent disability, so you may qualify either for a percentage of permanent partial disability for residual impairment or even permanent total disability.
Let a Dedicated Attorney Help You File an Occupational Disease Claim!
Ohio Workers’ Compensation Lawyers know that an occupation disease claim is even more difficult to prove than a workplace accident. The employer will either trick you into accepting money for treatment or deny your claim stating that your disease has nothing to do with the workplace conditions.
We will offer each new client a free consultation to evaluate your case. Thus, you have nothing to lose, even if you believe that you don’t have a case. You will be surprised what an experienced lawyer can do for you, so schedule your initial consultation now: 833-406-0060!