Repetitive stress injuries. Lung diseases caused by exposure to toxic fumes. Cancer caused by repeated exposure to carcinogens within the workplace. Deafness caused by repeated exposure to loud workplace environments.
There are a myriad of ways that our workplaces can erode our health and make us sick. When that happens, you have grounds for an occupational injury claim under N.J.S.A 34: 15-31.
The law defines a compensable occupational disease as: “All diseases arising out of and in the course of employment, which are due in a material degree to causes and conditions which are or were characteristic of or peculiar to a particular trade, occupation, process, or place of employment.” It goes on to specify that deterioration of tissues, organs, or body parts due to the natural aging process are not compensable.
As you might expect, arguments over whether a given ailment is the result of aging or arising out of and in the course of employment form the basis for many occupational disease disputes here in the state of New Jersey. Employers also try to prove that the disease came from sources other than the workplace so they can avoid paying benefits.
Proving an Occupational Disease Arose From Employment
In most cases, you will have to prove that the illness was produced by causes characteristic of or peculiar to the trade, occupation, or place of employment.
For example, if you are an office worker with a repetitive stress injury to your wrist, you usually have a pretty solid case. Carpal tunnel syndrome and other RSAs are characteristic of office worker employment.
You must also show that work contributed to a material degree, and not a minor degree, to the illness. An RSA case might be complicated if your hobby involves going home and spending time on the computer, where you are also typing.
Another example involves pipefitters and shipyard workers, who are often exposed to asbestos. Such a worker who makes a respiratory claim would usually have solid grounds to claim that their respiratory illness was produced by causes characteristic of or peculiar to their trade and that their trade contributed to the claim to a material degree.
The evidence must come from articles, treatises, and medical studies that prove a link rather than an employee’s own description of the environment. Your workers’ compensation lawyer can generally help you ascertain whether appropriate evidence exists. In addition, your workers’ compensation lawyer can help call upon medical experts who can help refute claims that normal aging caused your occupational illness or injury.
Get Help Today
Any workers’ compensation claim can become extremely complex quite quickly. Work with Talone Law to give your case its best chance of success.
Contact us to schedule a free case evaluation today.