What types of occupational exposure are covered by workers' compensation?
UPDATED: February 9, 2011
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The specific types of occupational exposures covered under workers' compensation will vary depending on the laws where you live, since workers compensation legislation is passed on a state-by-state basis. However, as a general matter, if you can prove you were injured or made ill as a result of one of the many types of workplace exposures, that injury or illness should be covered under the workers compensation system.
Understanding Workers Compensation Law and Occupational Exposures
Workers compensation is designed to provide a broad array of protections to a worker, and to ensure that any worker who is injured is able to pay his medical bills and continue to support himself and his family. As such, in many ways, workers comp provides more protection to a worker than tort laws would, since a worker can recover damages through workers comp even if there was negligence on his part as well.
However, while workers' comp does provide a broad array of recovery options for workers, there are limitations. The major requirement for making a workers comp claim is that you can prove that the injury arose from work. You are also required to notify the employer within a set frame of time (the exact timeframe varies by state).
The problem with workplace exposures, of course, is that often the injury/illness that results from the exposure doesn't become apparent until well after the exposure takes place. This doesn't mean you can't recover though. It just means that you need to notify the employer as soon as the exposure-related illness becomes known to you, and then you need to prove that the illness happened because of your work-related exposure. Of course, it is this factor - proving causation - that becomes a challenge.
Getting Help - Workers Compensation & Occupational Exposures
If you do intend to file a workers' comp claim based on exposure, you need to contact a lawyer. Your attorney can explain to you what your options are and help collect the evidence you need to prove that chemical exposure at work caused your illness. A workers' comp lawyer with concentration in occupational exposures will give you the best chance of recovering the benefits you deserve.