What is an Occupational Disease?
An occupational disease is a disease, illness, or other long-term health problem that workers get while working in a trade, occupation, or job where they are exposed to the disease.
Georgia’s law governing workers’ compensation also covers more serious workplace accidents. Additionally, it offers benefits for ailments and diseases you contract at work. They’re frequently referred to as “occupational diseases.”
How Do I Prove That My Condition is an Occupational Disease?
An occupational disease in Georgia must meet the requirements listed below to be covered by the workers’ compensation system:
- A direct connection between the work conditions and the disease
- The disease isn’t one you were exposed to outside of employment
- The condition isn’t something the general public is exposed to
- The sickness came about after being exposed to something as part of your employment
- The disease originated from employment and flowed from that source as a natural consequence
Georgia law explicitly states specific problems that might otherwise fall under this definition aren’t occupational diseases, like:
- Loss of hearing (partial)
- Psychiatric and psychological issues
- Heart and vascular diseases
However, other occupational diseases may also result in these problems when they are a symptom of the disease.
What Are Some Examples of Occupational Diseases in Georgia?
Occupational diseases often come from exposure to asbestosis, which can cause respiratory problems and some skin conditions. Other occupational illnesses include:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Lead Poisoning
- Radiation Illnesses
- Chemical Poisoning
- Neurological Disorders
What Benefits Are Available for Occupational Diseases?
The benefits for occupational diseases include the same kinds of compensation that are available for work injuries. These consist of medical expenses, lost earnings, and other benefits relating to employment. But medical care could be the most crucial benefit for people with serious illnesses.
Contacting a worker’s compensation lawyer after an injury is vital because employers and insurance companies are motivated to minimize these benefits.
How Are Occupational Diseases Different From Traditional Work Injuries?
In a typical work injury, a specific event makes it necessary to see a doctor. If you hurt your foot by dropping something on it, it’s easy to tell when it happened. Unfortunately, many occupational diseases are not the same. These conditions could take a long time to show up, and you might not know what caused them until a long time after you were exposed to whatever made you sick.
Once you realize that your illness may have something to do with your job, you should talk to a lawyer immediately to help you with your claim. You don’t want to lose your claim because you were too slow to act. But you shouldn’t think it’s too late to file, either. Once you realize that your illness is related to your job, the clock is ticking.
If you have an occupational disease, you have to tell your boss about it, and your boss is required by law to file a claim with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
How Do Pre-Existing Conditions Affect Occupational Disease Claims in Georgia?
You might be worried about filing a workers’ compensation claim because you already had a health problem that may have worsened your disease. You have no reason to. This kind of situation is taken into account by Georgia law when deciding if you should get benefits. Specifically, if a work condition makes your pre-existing condition worse, you may be able to get benefits since it sped up the process to get to the point where your disease is now.
An excellent example of this is asthma. Let’s say you had asthma before you started working. As part of your job, you often have to deal with dangerous chemicals. If that worsens your asthma, you probably have a claim for an occupational disease.
You should never hide the fact that you had this condition before you started working. If you do, you could be breaking the law by committing workers’ compensation fraud. Instead, be open and honest about your health before you started working and how it has changed since you were exposed to the chemicals.
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If you have been injured, the experienced attorneys at The Brown Firm offer a free consultation to accident victims in Georgia and South Carolina. Call 800-529-1441 to speak with our personal injury team today!
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