While it is common for employees to file claims for their workers’ compensation benefits for work-related injuries and accidents, claims pertaining to occupation diseases are rare, and often complicated in nature. When employees are diagnosed with an occupational disease, they have the right to claim workers’ compensation benefits under the Illinois Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act. However, identifying and proving occupational diseases that they are work-related is mostly very difficult.
What are Occupational Diseases?
These are the diseases caused due to exposure to excessive heat, noise, chemicals, radiation, and other hazardous environmental conditions. Most people have the impression that occupational diseases only refer to conditions like lung cancer and mesothelioma, but loss of hearing or eyesight also qualify. It also includes any existing disease aggravated because of poor work environment during the course of employment.
The reason why getting compensation for occupational diseases is difficult because many other causes can result in similar conditions, such as exposure to adverse external environment and personal habits.
Identifying Occupation Diseases and their Origins
There are several lines of work in which certain occupational diseases have a heightened rate of contraction as compared to the general population. For example, EMTs, paramedics, and firefighters work in environments which expose them to a higher risk of certain ailments, including illnesses caused by blood-borne pathogens, hypertension, and vascular disease. When employees catch such diseases, it is assumed they are caused because of the worker’s occupation. In such a case, the employer is burdened with the responsibility of proving that the worker could have caught the disease because of other reasons.
In the case of occupations where contracting certain diseases is not established, the employee has to prove that the disease is work-related. To do this, it is essential for an employee to get professional help of a workers’ compensation attorney. This is because they will have to document work environment conditions and get evaluations from medical practitioners to prove the job-related activities caused the disease. Since a majority of occupation disease develop over time, collecting evidence and reporting the disease within the statute of limitations is sometimes not possible.
Statute of Limitations for Occupational Diseases
As soon as the employee becomes aware of the occupation disease, they must notify their employer right away. The statute of limitations for filing an occupation disease claim is two years. This period starts from the day when the employee is diagnosed with the disease and a medical practitioner issues a written notice or a medical record of the disease’s existence.
In case of disablement, the employee must contract the disability within two years of last exposure to the workplace hazard. If an employee develops diseases related to asbestos or berylliosis, the statute of limitations extends to three years. For those exposed to radiation, they have 25 years to file a claim for their occupational disease.
If you have been diagnosed with an occupational disease, you need to act immediately before the statute of limitations expires for filing a case against your employer. Contact the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. at (847) 395-2200 or online today to schedule a consultation.