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A slow-onset illness may still qualify you for workers’ compensation

On Behalf of | Aug 14, 2020 | Workers' Compensation

When you think of workers’ compensation, you often imagine situations when a worker has tripped in the walk-in freezer or suffered a serious cut during dinner preparation. For a lot of workers, workers’ compensation seems like the solution for injuries suffered in brief and painful scenarios and nothing more.

However, even illnesses and injuries that come on gradually because of work duties may be eligible for workers’ compensation in the state of New York.

Common occupational diseases

Occupational diseases and injuries develop over time, but their ability to prevent you from performing your everyday duties can onset quickly. In New York, there are four non-fatal occupational illnesses that arise more often than others:

  1. Skin disorders – Repeated exposure to harsh chemicals and common workplace contaminants can cause long-lasting damage to workers’ skin. Contact dermatitis or eczema, contact urticaria and skin cancer are all common work-related diseases. In the restaurant industry, frequent handwashing, the ever-present use of gloves and exposure to disinfectants can cause irritant dermatitis.
  2. Respiratory conditions – Workers whose jobs expose them to airborne irritants, such as dust or gas fumes, can develop or worsen diseases like asthma, Brown and Black Lung Disease and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Asbestosis, or lung disease related to inhaling asbestos fibers, can be a common problem among construction and demolition workers.
  3. Poisonings – Many occupations require the use of toxic chemicals, some of which occur commonly as vapors or under high pressure. A mechanic may get sprayed with antifreeze when a hose disconnects and would be unable to change for the rest of their shift. A chef could inhale freon leaking from a faulty refrigerator. Whether the worker interacts with the chemical for a short period or a prolonged time, the resulting illness could have lasting effects.
  4. Hearing loss – The din of jobsite vehicles, machinery and daily operations commonly causes permanent hearing loss for many of New York’s blue collar workers. Unlike some other common occupational hazards, hearing loss is treatable but not curable.

Workers’ comp and occupational injuries

New York, like many states, realizes the severity of these conditions and works to provide compensation for work-related harm. Even if your occupational disease has not prevented you from showing up to work, you could still be eligible for workers’ compensation.

New York offers a limited window for occupational disease claims. Claims must be filed either 1) within two years from the date of the injurious event or 3) two years from the time the injured worker could reasonably associate the injury with their occupation.

For hearing loss claims, workers have either 1) three months from the date the worker experienced the harmful noise or 2) three months from leaving the job where the harmful noise occurred.

In both types of claims, the injured worker has until the later of the two dates to file a claim.

Talk it through with an attorney, first

To avoid missing your window in New York, contact a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as you associate your job with an occupational illness or injury. An experienced attorney can help you file a claim and guide you through gathering evidence to support and strengthen your claim.