Claims for Occupational Conditions are usually more difficult to prove than accident claims. Employees often have to prove their claims in court.
Most people know that workers who get a condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome from a job that requires strenuous, repeated hand movements sometimes can get workers’ comp benefits. But why some other conditions are occupational diseases and payable under workers’ comp is not as well understood. Some occupational conditions are listed in the workers’ comp law, like brown lung from breathing in cotton dust, or lung disease from asbestos.
Other occupational diseases can be any condition that meets both of these requirements: the employee’s work causes the condition, and the employee’s job put her at increased risk of getting the condition.
LESLIE’S WORKERS COMPENSATION CLAIM
Leslie worked in a retail distribution facility. Much of her day was spent filling orders that went to stores in the Southeast. The merchandise was kept in bins on shelves that stretched above her head and all the way down to the floor. She pulled the bins out and pushed them back in hundreds of times a day. After a year on the job she noticed that the soreness in her right shoulder wasn’t going away after she went home. In fact, it was getting worse.
Leslie had never had problems with her arm before. After a few hours at work the pain would get worse, but Leslie just tried to work through it. She went to the nurse at work and got medication regularly, but her pain quickly got to the point where she was having trouble doing her job. The nurse asked her if she had hurt her arm and Leslie truthfully answered that she hadn’t had an accident. She went to the company’s doctor who said she probably did have some chronic problems. After months of pain, he finally ordered an MRI, but Leslie was told that the company wouldn’t pay for more treatment.
Leslie started missing work because she just couldn’t physically do the job. Her sick leave time was soon gone and the company put her on short term disability. She went to a doctor who recommended surgery, but she didn’t go back for treatment because she couldn’t afford it. The $300 disability payments were taxable, so she only received $275 a week and couldn’t pay the co-pays for the doctor. Now Leslie is nearing the last of her short term payments. Since it has been over five months since she could work, Leslie fears she is in danger of getting evicted from her apartment.
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