When Can You Seek Workers’ Compensation for a Disease or Illness in Ohio?
Workers’ compensation covers both job-related injuries and job-related illnesses. If you have gotten sick at work, you should speak with a Columbus workers’ compensation attorney about your legal rights. While workers’ compensation covers job-related illnesses, collecting benefits often proves challenging for workers, and an experienced attorney can help make sure you receive full benefits as quickly as possible.
Workers’ Compensation Covers “Occupational Diseases”
Ohio’s workers’ compensation statute covers illnesses that qualify as “occupational diseases.” This term is defined in Section 4123.01(F) of the Ohio Laws:
“Occupational disease” means a disease contracted in the course of employment, which by its causes and the characteristics of its manifestation or the condition of the employment results in a hazard which distinguishes the employment in character from employment generally, and the employment creates a risk of contracting the disease in a greater degree and in a different manner from the public in general.”
In order to qualify as an “occupational disease,” an illness must arise from exposure at work. In the words of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), you must be able to prove that you experienced a work-related exposure, and you must be able to prove that, “there is a causal relationship between the exposure and the harmful effect that is confirmed by a medical diagnosis.” Basically, you need to get sick on the job.
Types of Exposure that Can Cause Occupational Diseases
Various types of exposure can lead to occupational diseases. This includes exposure to both harmful substances and harmful environments. The Ohio BWC identifies all of the following as types of exposure that can cause occupational diseases and entitle employees to workers’ compensation benefits:
- Exposure to dust, gases, or fumes
- Exposure to chemicals and other toxic substances
- Exposure to extreme temperatures, noises or pressures
- Exposure to physical vibrations or repetitive physical movement
- Exposure to infections and organisms
- Exposure to radiation
The Ohio BWC also states that in order for an illness to qualify as an occupational disease, “[t]he conditions of . . . employment [must] create a greater hazard to the worker than to the general public.” This means that someone who catches the flu while working in a retail store generally will not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. But, if doing your job increases your risk of getting sick, then a Columbus workers’ compensation attorney may be able to help you file a claim for benefits.
Common Examples of Occupational Diseases
Just like job-related injuries, some occupational diseases are more common than others. Section 4123.68 of the Ohio Laws includes a “Schedule” that lists some of the most common occupational diseases that qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. These occupational diseases include:
- Arsenic poisoning
- Benzol, nitro-derivative and amido-derivative poisoning
- Brass and zinc poisoning
- Carbon bisulphide poisoning
- Carbon dioxide poisoning
- Chrome ulceration of the skin or nasal passages
- Compressed air illness
- Epithelion cancer
- Gasoline, benzine, and naphtha poisoning
- Infections and inflammation from oils, cutting compounds or lubricants, dust, liquids, fumes, gases and vapors
- Lead poisoning
- Manganese dioxide poisoning
- Mercury poisoning
- Phosphorus poisoning
- Potassium cyanide poisoning
- Radium poisoning
- Sulphur dioxide poisoning
- Tenosynovitis and prepatellar bursitis
- Wood alcohol poisoning
However, the statute also makes clear that, “[a] disease which meets the definition of an occupational disease is compensable pursuant to this chapter though it is not specifically listed in this section.” In other words, even if you don’t see your medical condition on this list, if you believe that you may be suffering from an occupational disease, you should speak with a Columbus workers’ compensation attorney about your legal rights.
Steps to Seek Workers’ Compensation for an Occupational Disease
What should you do if you need to seek workers’ compensation benefits for a job-related disease or illness? There are several steps you need to take in order to successfully file for workers’ compensation with the Ohio BWC. These steps include:
1. Report Your Occupational Disease to Your Employer
In order to file for workers’ compensation benefits with the Ohio BWC, you first need to report your disease or illness to your employer. You should do this as soon as possible in order to protect your legal rights.
2. See a Certified Medical Provider
Once you report your occupational disease, your next step is to seek a diagnosis and treatment. In order to remain eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you must see a medical provider who has been certified by the Ohio BWC.
3. Make Sure You Understand Your Provider’s Recommendations
After seeking a certified medical provider, make sure you understand your provider’s recommendations. This is extremely important, as you need to avoid doing anything that could jeopardize your health or your claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
4. Learn about the Mistakes You Need to Avoid
There are many mistakes you need to avoid when seeking workers’ compensation benefits from the Ohio BWC. While it is possible to correct some of these mistakes in some cases if you aren’t careful you could lose your right to workers’ compensation coverage.
5. Get Help from a Columbus Workers’ Compensation Attorney
The best thing you can do when you are suffering from a job-related disease or illness is to get help from a Columbus workers’ compensation attorney. Your attorney can help make sure you report your injury and file your claim on time, and your attorney can deal with your employer and the Ohio BWC on your behalf. Your attorney can also calculate the full benefits you are legally owed; and, if necessary, your attorney can fight for your legal rights at the Ohio Industrial Commission or in court.
Request a Free Consultation with a Columbus Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Do you have questions about seeking workers’ compensation benefits for a job-related disease or illness? If so, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with an experienced Columbus workers’ compensation attorney in confidence, call 888-444-7440 or tell us how we can reach you online now.