Many individuals may feel that workers’ compensation benefits are only for individuals who have suffered from serious physical injuries such as broken bones and torn ligaments. However, workers’ compensation benefits can cover many areas of physical and nonphysical injuries to include biological infections, and mental disorders. Employees and workers who have had their health affected may not realize that they might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, if the condition of their health is due to exposure from the workplace. For example, in the coming weeks, the Senate house will vote on House Bill 216, which will grant firefighters workers’ compensation benefits for non-physical injuries—to include job-related cancer. Serious and life threatening non-physical health injuries that are directly related to your workplace are referred to as “occupational diseases.” Occupational diseases are caused from exposure to a disease or risk factors of a disease. In the case of Atlanta’s fire departments, workers are routinely exposed to cancer-causing carcinogens due to regular smoke inhalation. Chairman of Georgia’s Firefighters Cancer Coalition agrees that passing House Bill 216 is a highly anticipated victory for the state’s firefighters.
Qualifying Occupational Diseases
Employees and workers are often unaware of what non-physical injuries qualify as an occupational disease. Title 34 of Georgia’s Labor and Industrial code explains that any disablement or death caused by exposure in the workplace is treated as an accidental injury, and therefore may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits upon investigation. Meaning, you are qualified to file a workers’ compensation claim if your non-physical injury took place at work, and greatly reduces the productiveness of your daily life. Common workers’ compensation claims include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome;
- Hearing impairment;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder;
- Respiratory complications;
- Vision impairment; and
- Viral and bacterial infections.
Additionally, the International Labour Organization has compiled a long list of occupational diseases that could qualify for a workers’ compensation claim.
Am I at Risk for an Occupational Disease?
Given the sometimes non-symptomatic nature of occupational diseases, you may not be aware that you have been infected until years into your job position, or after you have ended it. Being proactive about your health includes gaining awareness of health-related risks, and figuring solutions for prevention. Knowing which industries are at high risk for occupational diseases may provoke you to check with your doctor for these ailments. Examples of high-risk industries that are typical to the Atlanta area include construction, automotive, HVAC, healthcare, agriculture, industrial plants, education, firefighters, and various government agencies.
Consulting an Attorney
Workers’ compensation laws vary according to state. Consulting with an experienced personal injury or workers’ compensation lawyer will be the first step to claiming the benefits you deserve. Atlanta residents, if you have you are seriously suffering from health-related injuries, or have strong reason to believe that you have been exposed to an occupational disease, contact us at the law firm of Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A today to schedule a FREE consultation. We will help you fight for your rights, and ensure you are compensated fairly and justly for the injuries you have sustained.