How can I tell if my illness is work-related?

Doctor measuring blood pressure of female patient in hospital officeWorkers’ compensation claims involving on-the-job accidents are normally fairly straightforward. It’s easy to establish a cause and effect relationship when a worker suffers injury due to a fall or a malfunctioning piece of equipment.

Claims for work-related illnesses are more complex because the illness is often the result of cumulative exposure or could mistakenly be attributed to activities that occurred outside the workplace.

Claims for Occupational Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is one of the most common types of work-related illnesses. Anyone who works in an environment where he or she is regularly exposed to loud noises is vulnerable, although construction workers and those who are employed in manufacturing facilities report the highest number of these types of claims.

Work-related hearing loss is covered under workers’ compensation law. However, testing may be done to rule out other possibilities for your condition, such as infection or a head injury.

Claims for Skin Conditions Related to Chemical Exposure

Florists, hairdressers, manicurists, cooks, janitors, and certain types of manufacturing workers often spend large portions of their day in contact with harsh chemicals. These chemicals can be linked to several different skin conditions.

  • Irritant contact dermatitis. A painful but curable skin condition, this disorder can be the result of long-term exposure to chemicals.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis. Patients with this type of skin condition can experience effects immediately or after prolonged exposure. The effect is permanent once sensitization occurs.
  • Skin cancer. Contact with carcinogenic chemicals can lead to skin cancer, which could in some cases be fatal.

Claims for Mesothelioma or Asbestosis

Exposure to asbestos over many years can lead to mesothelioma or asbestosis. Construction workers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, engineers, firefighters, machinists, heavy equipment mechanics, and welders are just a few of the various professionals who are considered to be at risk for these illnesses. Claims for such occupational diseases are subject to an enhanced standard of proof to establish that the illness is work related. Therefore, it is essential that you have an experienced workers' compensation attorney assist you on these claims.

Claims for Exposure to Contagious Diseases

Common illnesses such as the cold or flu are not eligible for workers’ compensation. However, if you work in a nursing home, hospital, doctor’s office, or other healthcare setting, certain types of contagious diseases can be considered work-related if you can establish that you were infected while performing your job duties. This includes tuberculosis, brucellosis, or Hepatitis A.

Claims for Workplace Food Poisoning

Food poisoning can be considered eligible for workers’ compensation if you can trace the illness back to food supplied by your employer. If you become ill after eating food you’ve brought from your own home or purchased for yourself at another location, the illness is not considered work-related. Reports of similar illnesses among coworkers who ate the same meal are often sufficient to establish a link between your employer and your need for medical treatment.

Claims for Mental Health Conditions Related to Workplace Trauma

Treatment for mental health conditions related to your work may be covered under workers’ compensation, as long as the psychological condition arose following a physcial injury caused by an on-the-job accident.  In the absence of a physical injury, psychological problems such as depression and PTSD are not covered under Georgia law.  

Protecting Your Right to Compensation

If you’re experiencing difficulty obtaining workers’ compensation benefits for an illness that you believe is related to your employment, obtaining legal representation is a must. An experienced attorney can help line up the evidence you need to document the cause of your condition, thus protecting your right to medical treatment and income replacement benefits.

Rechtman & Spevak’s attorneys are committed to helping injured Georgia residents access the workers’ compensation benefits they need to move forward with their lives. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.