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What If I Develop a Work-Related Illness or Disease?

Posted on in Workers' Compensation

IL injury lawyerA lot of people who suffer an injury while on the job can collect workers’ compensation benefits. Under Illinois law, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees in the event they are injured on the job. In certain industries, a worker may develop an ailment over time due to repeated exposure to toxic substances. A person can suffer permanent physical and/or neurological damage from contact with chemicals, dust, fumes, mold, or radiation. Those employees are also entitled to compensation if the occupational disease or illness was due to continuous employment in that profession. The Illinois Occupational Diseases Act assures fair compensation for workers who are temporarily or permanently disabled by such illnesses or diseases.

Illinois Occupational Diseases Act

The Illinois Occupational Diseases Act states that an occupational disease is an illness or damaging condition that is a direct result of employment or which could be aggravated by hazardous workplace conditions. These unsafe conditions must not be “common to the general public.” Common colds and other contagious ailments are not generally considered to be directly work-related. Many jobs involve exposure to dangerous chemicals, radiation, loud noise, and other hazards. These occupations can include but are not limited to the following:

  • Miners
  • Construction workers
  • Welders
  • Farmworkers
  • Tunnel or railroad workers
  • Diesel mechanics
  • Aerospace workers

The following occupational diseases are common among long-term industry employees and can ultimately be life-threatening for the employee:

  • Hearing loss
  • Asbestosis (a chronic lung condition caused by inhaling asbestos)
  • Cancer
  • Lead poisoning
  • Infertility
  • Hepatitis
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Tuberculosis
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Asthma/COPD

Filing an Occupational Disease Claim

Although the Occupational Diseases Act is separate from the Workers’ Compensation Act, employees are still entitled to any medical care coverage necessary based on their condition. This coverage can include any surgeries and subsequent hospital stays, rehabilitation, prosthetics, and more. They are also eligible for disability pay for all lost wages due to missed work, including permanent total disability if applicable. The main difference between the benefits received under the Occupational Diseases Act and workers’ compensation insurance is the Diseases Act includes any overtime pay when calculating the employee’s average weekly wage.

The process of filing a workers’ compensation claim for an occupational disease can be tedious. Unlike an injury such as a broken bone due to a slip and fall at work, workplace-related illnesses can take a long time for symptoms to present. For example, cancer may not be found until years after exposure to hazardous materials. Therefore, the Occupational Diseases Act allows workers to report the illness and file a claim within a two- to three-year period from the first appearance of symptoms. In most circumstances, workers must obtain medical records to prove their disease was caused or aggravated by conditions at their workplace. Even in cases of permanent disability, the worker usually bears the burden of proof.

Contact a DuPage County Job-Related Illness Attorney

Certain types of occupations can be more dangerous than others by exposure to toxic chemicals or substances on a regular basis. Employees can contract diseases or develop illnesses over time that cause them undue hardship. If you or a loved one is diagnosed with a medical condition that results in you being unable to work, you should seek legal counsel. The legal team at the Law Offices of David W. Clark, P.C. will thoroughly investigate the details of your case to determine if you can recover benefits. To schedule a free consultation, contact an experienced Bloomingdale workers’ compensation lawyer today at 630-665-5678.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2431&ChapterID=68

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/96-115/diseas.html

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