What Is An Occupational Disease Claim?
Workers in the Tampa area can sustain a wide range of traumatic injuries in workplace accidents, which are often compensable through the Florida workers’ compensation system. Yet workers can also suffer from occupational diseases that result from repetitive and long-term exposure to certain conditions or substances in the workplace. In a variety of circumstances, workers can also be eligible to obtain workers’ compensation benefits as a result of an occupational disease diagnosis. How does Florida law define occupational diseases, and when are occupational diseases compensable? Consider some of the following information from our experienced Tampa workers’ compensation attorneys.
Common Types of Occupational Diseases
What are some common types of occupational diseases? While there are a wide range of occupational diseases that can affect workers in various industries, Occupational Safety cites some of the following as being among the most common types of occupational diseases that result in missed workdays:
- Respiratory conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that result from exposure to chemicals in the workplace, such as in jobs like auto part manufacturing or plastic manufacturing;
- Musculoskeletal disorders that result from repetitive movements or repetitive strain, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or back injuries;
- Hearing loss, which often affects workers in manufacturing, constructing, and mining industries;
- Cancer, which is particularly common in occupations that involve exposure to asbestos;
- Skin diseases, or contact dermatitis, which can result from exposure to different types of chemicals or toxic substances in the workplace; and
- Infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis or hepatitis, which are particularly common among workers in social services, correctional facilities, and health care.
When Occupational Diseases Can Be Compensable in Florida Workers’ Compensation Claims
When is an occupational disease compensable through the workers’ compensation system? According to the Florida Statutes, for an occupational disease to be compensable, it must have “resulted from the nature of the employment in which the employee was engaged under such employer, was actually contracted while so engaged, and the nature of the employment was the major contributing cause of the disease.”
Further, according to the statute, the worker must prove that, “in the occupation which the employee was so engaged, there is attached a particular hazard of such disease that distinguishes it from the usual run of occupations, or the incidence of such disease is substantially higher in the occupation in which the employee was so engaged than in the usual run of occupations.”
In sum, for an occupational disease to be compensable, both of the following must be true:
- Work was a major contributing cause of the occupational disease; and
- Occupational disease is specifically linked to the type of industry or job, meaning that the employee’s profession has particular risks of a certain occupational disease, or comes with exposure to certain substances or materials that are more likely to result in a specific occupational disease or condition.
Contact an Experienced Tampa Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you were recently diagnosed with a disease or condition that you think might qualify as a compensable occupational disease, you should get in touch with an experienced Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer at the Franco Law Firm who can assist you with your claim. Do not hesitate to contact us for assistance with your case.