Workers’ compensation cases usually involve some kind of “accident” that causes a worker injury while on the job. However, sometimes there are working conditions that cause an ailment or illness that progresses slowly over time. If such ailments are diagnosed as a disease that resulted from working conditions to which an eligible employee is exposed, then the employee may file a workers’ compensation claim based on “occupational disease.”
Occupational diseases include such illnesses or ailments as
- repetitive stress injuries
- hearing loss
- lung cancer
Maryland workers’ compensation law covers occupational diseases that arise “out of or in the course of” employment. A qualified physician will have to examine you to determine two things. First, that you have an occupational disease associated with your job, and second that this occupational disease developed as the result of on-the-job exposure to a known cause and was not the result of factors that existed before your exposure at work.
There must be a disablement that results from the occupational disease in order for the worker to receive compensation. A disablement occurs when the worker becomes partially or totally incapacitated as a result of the occupational disease. The disablement must prevent the worker from performing employment in the last occupation that exposed the worker to the hazards of the disease. Proving disablement can be complicated and involves a number of different factors.
Underlying conditions that are worsened or aggravated by your working conditions or job activities are not covered by Maryland workers’ compensation law. So for instance, if you suffered from hypertension before you began your job but your hypertension worsens as a result of your working conditions, this would not be covered under Maryland law.
Statute of Limitations
The two-year statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims can work against sufferers of occupational disease. The window of time begins as soon as you first notice signs of a health problem associated with your job. At that point, you must notify your employer and file a workers’ compensation claim. The restrictive nature of this statute of limitations means that you need to contact an attorney to assist you with your claim right away.
Consult an experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney
The issues and questions surrounding occupational disease can be complex. That’s why it’s important to hire an attorney who has extensive experience in the field. Contact the lawyers at Alpert Schreyer, LLC online or call us at (301) 812-4777 for a free consultation.