Workers’ Compensation for Occupational Diseases
Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Dec 12, 2017 in Workers' Compensation
Hazards in the workplace can lead to the development of occupational diseases that impact a person’s everyday life and ability to work.
If an employee develops an injury or disease because of conditions found in his or her work environment, the employee may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
If you believe you developed an occupational disease or illness and were denied the benefits you deserve, do not hesitate to contact the seasoned Phoenix workers’ compensation attorneys of Phillips Law Group. We will work to help support your workers’ compensation claim by proving the disease or illness you suffered was work-related.
We will provide you with a free, no obligation consultation to review the circumstances behind your disease and determine if you are owed compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages.
Common Occupational Diseases
Occupational diseases are illnesses and medical conditions that develop due to a worker’s exposure to hazards, substances or dangerous job activities. The following are common occupational diseases:
- Skin diseases or conditions caused by exposure to harmful substances or chemicals
- Hearing loss caused by exposure to loud equipment
- Respiratory conditions caused by chemical vapors, gases or dust in the workplace
- Poisoning due to ingestion or absorption of toxins
- Heatstroke, heat exhaustion or frostbite
- Musculoskeletal disorders caused by repetitive movements, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Eye strain caused by long-term computer use
- Infectious diseases caused by exposure to viruses, germs or bacteria
- Fertility problems and birth defects caused by chemical exposure
Requirements for Workers' Compensation
Occupational diseases must meet certain criteria to qualify for workers’ compensation. According to AZ 23-901.01, an illness or medical condition is considered an occupational disease only if it meets all of the following six requirements:
- There is a direct relationship between the conditions under which the worker is subjected and the occupational disease.
- The disease can be seen as being naturally caused by the work as a result of the exposure the employee is subjected to.
- The proximate cause of the disease can be traced back to the worker’s employment.
- The disease is not related to a hazard the worker would have been exposed to outside his or her work.
- The disease is a consequence of the nature of the business and not independent of the relation between the employer and employee.
- The origin of the disease is a risk regularly connected to the worker’s job-related duties.
Special Rules for Firefighters and Peace Officers
Exposure to hazardous conditions is a known risk for firefighters and peace officers. Because of this exposure, it is often easier to connect a disease or medical condition to the course of an emergency responder’s employment.
Under Arizona’s workers’ compensation laws, any disease or impairment of a firefighter’s or peace officer’s health that is caused by cancer in the following areas is presumed to be job-related:
- Colon and rectum
- Buccal cavity and pharynx
- Large intestine
Additionally, weakness or impairment of a firefighter’s or peace officer’s health that is caused by the following conditions is presumed to be an occupational disease:
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma
- Malignant melanoma
- Testicular cancer
The presumption that these conditions resulted from occupational conditions applies as long as the following requirements are met:
- The worker must have undergone a physical exam prior to employment that did not show the cancer, disease or medical condition.
- The worker must have performed hazardous duties for at least five years.
- The worker was exposed to known carcinogens.
- The department for which the employee worked was informed he or she was exposed to known carcinogens while on duty.
However, firefighters’ or peace officers’ actions outside of their work duties may affect their ability to collect workers’ compensation for an occupational disease.
For example, if a firefighter is diagnosed with a form of respiratory cancer, and it is found he or she regularly smoked cigarettes or tobacco products, it may affect the firefighter’s workers’ compensation claim.
Contact Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Now
If you suffered an occupational disease and were denied the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve, do not hesitate to contact a skilled attorney for help with your claim.
The Phoenix workers’ compensation lawyers at Phillips Law Group fight to secure the benefits you deserve for your occupational disease. We will gather evidence to support your claim and guide you through the workers’ compensation claims process.
Find out the legal options available and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our firm today. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you only have to pay legal fees if we help you recover compensation for your workers’ compensation claim.
Call or text 1-800-706-3000 to schedule a free consultation.