Have you contracted an illness or disease from your place of employment?
There are many professions that require interaction with sick or ill individuals. These occupations include nurses, doctors, in-home aids, social workers, law enforcement, and prison guard or jail officers. In addition to these professions, an entire set of jobs requires exposure to live viruses or diseases, such as medical researchers and laboratory or research assistants.
In addition, there are people who do not have any known exposure to diseases, but still become exposed to something unexpected at their job and become ill. When an individual contracts a disease or illness from his or her place of employment, it is an occupational disease.
Workers’ Compensation for Occupational Diseases
Much of the information available on workers’ compensation claims discusses injuries in the workplace. However, illnesses and occupational diseases are also covered under New Jersey law. Whether contracting a disease through a known or unknown risk in your workplace, employees are entitled to workers’ compensation for their medical costs and benefits for time you must be away from work.
In addition to upfront medical costs, in New Jersey employees can receive workers’ compensation for the long-term cost of recovery. This can include expenses for continuing health conditions, such as:
- Hearing loss
- Weakened eyesight or blurred visions
- Muscular atrophy
- Stomach or intestinal issues
- Ongoing aches and pains, and
Determining the Time Frame of Occupational Disease
Occupational diseases present some specific legal problems related to workers’ compensation. To begin, the onset of symptoms of an illness can be delayed. For instance, an illness contracted in October may not become apparent or known to the individual until December or January. It can be difficult for an employee to tie the illness back to an event in October.
This causes a dual set of problems. The first is that under New Jersey law an employee must timely report a job-related illness to his or her employer. Luckily, there is a caveat for occupational illnesses, the requirement to report allows for informing an employer when the employee contracts the illness or when the employee should have known of the illness. This allows an employee whose symptoms appear after a reasonable time to still file a claim.
Second, a gap between contraction and symptoms means it is difficult to provide evidence that a workplace event caused the disease. Of course, laboratory assistants that handle live virus or bacteria every day will have a strong causal link to an occupational disease, but this is less true for an employee who becomes ill due to an event in an office or through social work. In these instances, representation of a lawyer can be helpful.
Contacting a New Jersey Lawyer
When an employee contracts an occupational disease it can mean a day at the doctor or months of visits to medical professionals and specialists. In either instance, you should recover the full amount of your medical costs through workers’ compensation, and a New Jersey lawyer familiar with the Division of Workers’ Compensation and claims in the state can help. The Law Offices of Albert J. Talone, LLC provide a free, confidential consultation of your occupational disease. Simply, contact our office at (856) 234-4023.