What Is An Occupational Disease?
When many workers and their families in Florida think about the risk of a workplace injury, they are thinking about accidents that result in traumatic injuries, such as falls from heights, slips and falls, machine amputations, electrocutions, or being struck by an object. Yet workers can also become debilitated and unable to work as a result of suffering an occupational disease, which occurs over a period of time instead of seemingly instantaneously in an accident. It is critical for workers to know that their occupational diseases may qualify them for workers’ compensation benefits in Florida. If you have developed a disease or condition as a result of your work in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in South Florida and that condition is preventing you from working, you should seek advice from a South Florida workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible to determine your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.
In the meantime, our firm wants to provide you with more information about occupational diseases so that you have a better understanding of your own situation and the possibility of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits.
What Are Occupational Diseases?
What is an occupational disease and how is it defined? According to Florida law, the term occupational disease means “a disease which is due to causes and conditions which are characteristic of and peculiar to a particular trade, occupation, process, or employment,” and the term excludes “all ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is exposed, unless the incidence of the disease is substantially higher in the particular trade, occupation, process, or employment than for the general public.”
In other words, occupational diseases are diseases or conditions that arise as a result of your job duties—they can include diseases and conditions that result from any tasks or substances to which you have been exposed for your job. There are many different types of occupational diseases that may be compensable through the workers’ compensation system in Florida, such as:
- Repetitive motion conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or back injuries due to repeated lifting over time;
- Lung conditions such as asbestosis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (also known as COPD), lung cancer, or mesothelioma;
- Skin conditions resulting from exposure to hazardous substances at work, which can include, for example, chemical burns or skin cancer; or
- Hearing loss due to repeated exposure to very loud sounds over time, such as in a factory or through use of heavy machinery.
How to Seek Compensation for Occupational Diseases
If you do have an occupational disease that has resulted from your work on the job, you may be eligible to obtain workers’ compensation benefits to cover your related medical bills and lost wages due to your inability to work. You will need to be able to prove that the “nature of the employment was the major contributing cause of the disease,” which you will need to prove with medical evidence. You can provide medical records from a physical examination by a healthcare provider, as well as results from diagnostic testing.
Seek Advice from a Fort Lauderdale Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you need assistance seeking benefits for an occupational disease, one of our experienced Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation attorneys can help. Contact the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld, P.A. for more information.