You don’t have to tackle these issues alone. A New York workers’ compensation lawyer with The Weinstein Law Group, PLLC can explain the financial compensation that can be recovered for your work-related illness. Our attorneys offer aggressive legal representation, putting you and your future first.
Basics of occupational diseases in New York
Any line of work can expose workers to an occupational illness or disease. Even workplaces that may seem “safe” can have positions that cause people to become sick.
Who’s at risk for suffering occupational illnesses and diseases?
Certain jobs come with a higher risk of workplace diseases and illnesses. Examples of these occupations include:
- Healthcare workers: Frequent exposure to health hazards and pathogens increases the chances of a healthcare worker developing an occupational disease.
- Manufacturing workers: Manufacturing workers may work in an environment exposed to highly hazardous materials.
- Construction workers: A construction worker can be at risk of disease or illness from exposure to various fumes, chemicals, and asbestos.
- Welders: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that employees working around long-term exposure to welding fumes can suffer neurological disorders.
Which occupational diseases are eligible for workers’ comp coverage?
According to the New York Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB), an occupational illness is a “condition associated with a particular industry or occupation.” For example, many New York jobs may involve asbestos exposure. Therefore, asbestosis and mesothelioma would qualify as a New York occupational disease.
A large variety of work-related occupational diseases occur in workplaces throughout New York.
- Respiratory illnesses, such as chronic bronchitis, asbestosis, anthracosilicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, coal workers pneumoconiosis (CWP), and silicosis
- Bloodborne diseases
- Vision and hearing loss
- Skin diseases, such as eczema, contact dermatitis, contact urticaria, and vitiligo
- Cancer of various organs or systems
- Mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD
- Cardiovascular disease
- Musculoskeletal disorders, such as chronic tenosynovitis, radial styloid tenosynovitis, olecranon bursitis, and carpal tunnel
- Heart attacks
- Parasitic and infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, brucellosis, anthrax
A New York occupational disease attorney can help you recover compensation if your job caused you to develop an occupational disease. Generally, you would file an occupational illness claim through your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance company. Still, you may be eligible for additional benefits through a labor law personal injury claim.
What do you do if you suffer an occupational disease?
Follow these steps when you have contracted an occupational disease:
- Get immediate medical care so you can start to recover.
- Report the illness or disease to your employer. You must notify your employer in writing as soon as you can after you have received a diagnosis of an occupational illness. Provide a full list of all details regarding how the disease relates to your job duties.
- File a workers’ compensation claim. This should be completed as soon as possible, but it is important to do so within the allotted time frame. This information should be posted in your workplace.
- Seek and continue medical treatment. If you feel your illness is work-related, you must seek a medical diagnosis. You must continue getting medical treatment from a qualified healthcare provider following your diagnosis and act on their treatment recommendations. Retain copies of your medical records to support your workers’ comp claim.
How can an attorney help if you have suffered an occupational disease?
A New York occupational disease attorney can help you in many ways if you have developed a disease or illness from your workplace. While having a lawyer assist you in the process is not legally required, you have a better chance of recovering the full benefits you deserve. The specific ways an attorney can help you include the following:
- Answer your questions and explain the legal options you have during a free consultation
- Investigate what caused your disease or illness
- Gather documentation and evidence to strengthen your illness claim
- Assess the value of your claim
- Complete and file all necessary paperwork
- Handle all correspondence with lawyers, doctors, insurance adjusters, and other involved parties
- Pursue the workers’ compensation benefits you’re entitled to receive
- Negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company
- If necessary, pursue your claim through appeals and court hearings
When should I expect to receive workers’ comp benefits?
After you have reported your disease or illness to your employer, within 14 days, you should hear back from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company, letting you know if your claim has been approved. Suppose the insurance company decides to challenge your illness claim. In that case, they must notify you within ten (10) days of receiving notification from your employer or 18 days after your injury, whichever date is later. The New York State Board should then contact you regarding a hearing, and it’s wise to have reliable legal counsel defending you at this event.
What kinds of damages can I recover after contracting an occupational disease?
Once your illness claim has been approved, you can receive benefits. If your illness or injury keeps you from working for at least seven days, you are entitled to payments from workers’ compensation worth a portion of your lost income. These payments are sent every two weeks and come directly from your employer’s insurance company.
In addition to income replacement, workers’ compensation will provide the following.
Workers’ compensation will cover payment for all your work-related medical expenses. You must carefully record these, including doctor visits, hospitalizations, prescription medications, surgeries, and any medical equipment necessary for your recovery.
Workers whose occupational illness results in permanent impairment may be entitled to receive impairment benefits. These benefits compensate for any permanent mental or physical impairment caused by an occupational illness or disease.
If the occupational disease results in the worker’s death, their dependents may be entitled to death benefits. These benefits may include payment to cover funeral and burial costs and continued wage replacement benefits.
What are some common causes of occupational diseases in New York?
The following are some potential causes of occupational diseases among workers in New York that can be present in nearly any kind of workplace:
- Work-related infection
- Inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Poor ventilation
- Exposure to extreme temperatures
- Inadequate protection or training
- Prolonged exposure to loud environments
- Excessive vibrations
- Exposure to compressed or decompressed air
- Exposure to toxic chemicals and substances such as aluminum
- Exposure to dust, fumes, and gases
Workers who suspect the possibility of being exposed to an occupational disease should do everything they can to protect themselves. Following safety guidelines and using the correct safety equipment can reduce the chances of a worker developing an occupational illness. Unfortunately, even the most careful workers can develop occupational illnesses under many circumstances.
How long do I have to file a claim for an occupational disease?
Many occupational illnesses are commonly linked to smoking or poor diet, which leads to workers not being aware of the illness till it is too late, even when workplace exposure causes the illness. This makes it even more important to speak openly with your doctor and be very aware of the possible workplace hazards you could encounter. An employee who has suffered from an occupational illness is required to file a claim no later than:
- Two years from the day the disability of the worker began OR
- Two years from the date the worker knew or should have known that the illness was caused by their work environment
When the occupational illness has to do with the loss of a worker’s hearing, other time limits may apply. Workers with hearing loss must wait a certain amount before submitting a workers’ compensation claim. This waiting period is:
- Three months after the date the injured worker is removed from the loud noise in their workplace OR
- Three months after they leave the work environment that created exposure to the dangerous noise
After three months have passed for either of the above time frames, the disability will begin on the last day of that period. The worker can then file a workers’ compensation claim beyond the given limit of two years if it is done within 90 days of becoming aware that their hearing loss was directly related to their workplace.
Did you contract an illness or disease at work? We can help.
It is important to take immediate action if you have been diagnosed with an occupational illness or disease. The Weinstein Law Group, PLLC is dedicated to helping workers injured at their workplace. Our experienced team of lawyers is committed to guiding clients through the legal process while providing personalized attention.
The workers’ compensation system can be complex and confusing, and we want to ensure you have a fierce legal team ready to fight on your behalf. Call The Weinstein Law Group, PLLC today at (212) 741-3800 to schedule a free consultation or use our secure online contact form.