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Occupational Diseases in the Workplace

With all the news today surrounding the cases of healthcare workers contracting Ebola, you may wonder if you are eligible for workers’ compensation if you contract a disease as the result of your job. The answer is yes, this may be considered an “occupational” related disease.

First, let’s define what an “occupational” disease means. An “occupational” disease must arise out of and in the course of a particular trade, occupation, process or employment to which you are exposed to such disease. Some examples, in the healthcare industry, might be TB, HIV, Ebola, hepatitis. Other forms of occupational diseases/injuries might be hearing loss, asthma, lung disease or cancer.

Under the Georgia Worker’s Compensation Act, an employee may be eligible for lost wages and medical benefits if he or she can meet certain requirements. First, there has to be a direct link between the conditions under which you work and contracting the disease. Second, you must contract the disease as a natural incident of exposure through your employment. Third, you should have no substantial exposure to such disease outside of your employment. Fourth, the disease is not an ordinary disease of life to which the general public would be exposed. Finally, there must be an appearance that you contracted the disease in a risk connected with your employment and that it flowed from that risk as a natural consequence.

As with any workers’ compensation claim, you must file your claim for benefits in a timely manner. In the case of occupational disease, the deadline to file is within one year of the date that you knew or should have known of the exposure. This could mean one year from the date of the actual exposure or one year from a diagnosis, as in the case of asbestosis or mesothelioma as related to exposure from asbestos.

If you are not sure if your entitled to benefit, call and let us help you work through the process to determine your eligibility. Don’t wait until it’s too late to file your claim.

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