Workers’ Compensation Claims for Occupational Diseases

Businessman with bandaged wristis suffering from wrist joint pain at home office. occupational disease workers compensation concept

Everyone has the right to a safe working environment. Unfortunately, some occupations are particularly hazardous — especially those that involve exposure to chemicals, carcinogens, and dangerous substances. While workers who suffer an injury on the job may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation, those who have developed a repetitive occupational disease as a result of their employment are also entitled to these benefits. If you were diagnosed with an illness or medical condition in connection with your employment, it is important to understand your legal options.

What is an Occupational Disease?

Under Washington law, an occupational disease is defined as one that “arises naturally and proximately out of employment.” Unlike an injury which occurs instantaneously, an occupational disease may take time to develop due to repeated exposure in the working environment. In fact, when a worker is exposed to a hazardous condition, symptoms may not appear for months, years, or even decades.

There are a wide array of occupational diseases that may qualify for Workers’ Compensation benefits, including the following:

  • Lung disease
  • Hearing loss
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Repetitive use injuries
  • Cancer
  • Hepatitis

What is the Workers’ Compensation Criteria for an Occupational Disease Claim?

There are certain criteria the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) or a self-insured employer will use to approve a claim for occupational disease compensation. While it can be difficult to pinpoint the date a work-related disease manifested, occupational disease claims must be filed within two years from the date a worker received notice from their physician of it. The disease must also be one that “arises naturally and proximately” out of employment.

In addition, to be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits, a physician must render an opinion that the worker’s employment conditions were a cause of the disease — or cause of the aggravation to a pre-existing condition.

Occupational Disease Compensation

Workers who suffer an occupational disease may experience limitations that impact their ability to work. In some cases, they may be unable to work at all. Workers’ Compensation will provide a broad scope of benefits to employees who have been diagnosed with a work-related illness. These benefits can include coverage for medical treatment and prescriptions, wage replacement, retraining, and a permanent partial disability award.

Contact an Experienced Washington

If you suffered an illness in connection with your work environment or job function, you may be entitled to occupational disease compensation. However, obtaining L&I benefits in Washington can be a complex process and it is essential to have the guidance of an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney who can help you navigate the process. The Bellingham Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Robinson & Kole provide aggressive representation to injured workers throughout Washington State and strive to secure the best possible results in each case. We welcome you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 800.640.5616 or by using our online contact form. Se habla Español.