FAQs About Occupational Diseases and Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

FAQs About Occupational Diseases and Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

May 20, 2021 Off By Glespynorson

People often asked if workers’ compensation covers an employee for work-related illness or injuries that aren’t the result of an accident? There was a time when the answer would have been no, but workman’s comp often now applies to workers who sustain work-related diseases as well.

However, this is only true if your state has specific legislation about it. This is why it is important for you to contact a lawyer who has the training and experience to handle your workers’ compensation claim.

What are Occupational Diseases?

Occupational diseases are classified as any illness that is caused by work and is not a result of an accident. All states provide some coverage for occupational diseases under worker’s compensation.

Some of the most common types of occupational diseases include:

  • Joint pain
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Neck pain
  • Hard-to-treat ulcers
  • Chronic headaches
  • Coughs
  • Chest pain
  • Spinal pain
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Skin disorders00

Some diseases that are considered ordinary diseases of life may also be compensable under workers’ compensation if certain criteria are met. For example, cancer can be compensable you can prove that the disease would not have otherwise occurred had the person not been.

If disease existed before the exposure to the job, then it is not covered under workers’ compensation. A person with asthma, for example, may find their symptoms aggravated by paint fumes at work. However, if you were diagnosed with it as a result of exposure to paint fumes, then it would be compensated under workers’ compensation.

Basically, your physician has to be able to say that work caused the condition, and it cannot result from sources other than employment. This new burden of proof is stronger than the “preponderance of the evidence” standard that has been used in the past.

Worker’s Compensation does not cover pneumonia or flu.

There are some special rules that apply to people who have an occupational disease that differ from the rules for those who have an injury by accident.

When does Workers’ Compensation cover Occupational Diseases?

Claims for work-related diseases must meet certain requirements.  If you suffer a certain type of work-related illness, whether it is a condition, disease, injury, your workers’ compensation insurer is required to cover it.

In some states, when employees are seeking workers comp benefits for an occupational disease, there is a statute of limitations. This means that the employee has a limited amount of time to file their claim. Claims may need to be filed within a specified time period of the date the worker became disabled by the disease or became aware that the disease was connected to his or her employer.

How Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Occupational Diseases?

Workman’s comp cases that are alleged to be caused by an occupational disease need to be settled within a certain time limit. Workers’ compensation benefits can be available for medical care, pain and suffering and lost income.

Iron Mine Workers, for example, come in contact with chemicals, particulates or other substances that have the potential to cause harm or illness are liable for their treatment under the mine worker’s compensation act.

Individuals over the age of 65, and individuals who have not worked in a particular profession for a minimum number of years, may also receive a workers’ compensation settlement.

What are some of the Occupational Diseases for which Workers’ Compensation Pays?

These diseases include musculoskeletal ailments, diseases of the central nervous system, dental diseases, digestive disorders, diabetes, asthma, chronic bronchitis, and many more. It also covers neurological disorders, which include nervous system disorders, mental retardation and brain damage as well as cancer, kidney disease and other illnesses caused by specific carcinogens.

The federal government has created two programs to help prevent occupational disease, which is caused by a person’s occupation. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers Compensation administers these, which are:

Federal Black Lung Program – This plan provides coverage for the treatment of pneumoconiosis, which is the technical term for black lung disease. Black lung disease is caused by exposure to coal dust. The program provides benefits to workers disabled by the disease and death benefits to workers’ survivors.

Energy Workers Program – This plan provides medical and other benefits to current or former employees of the Department of Energy (and certain vendors or contractors) who have contracted cancer or other diseases as a result of exposure to radiation, beryllium, or silica.


Many employers who rely on the insurance coverage from their workers’ compensation policy for their employees’ health care may want to find out more about the various forms of medical care and how they may apply to your workers’ compensation claim.

Proving that the environment in your work situation was the cause of your disease or illness can be a challenge in a claim for Workers’ Compensation. You should seek help from a workplace injury attorney if you have suffered a disease or illness because of your job. You may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits.