Workers' Compensation: Occupational Diseases

Occupational disease and injuries in Workers' Compensation. Contact Georgia Attorney.

Occupational Diseases: What are they?

Diseases developed by a worker and related to employment can be classified as either being occupational injuries or being occupational diseases. Generally, where a disease arises or is contracted from an unusual, single or unexpected source, it will be considered as an occupational injury. Where the worker's illness, injury or disease develops over a course of time and from exposures typically or repetitively found in the work place, then it is likely to be considered to be an occupational disease. The distinction between these classifications is not always easily discernable but the classification has important legal implications.

Benefits Are Available Under For Occupational Diseases:

Georgia law provides that occupational diseases can be treated as an injury by accident under Georgia Workers' Compensation laws and that the injured worker can receive income, medical and other benefits. See O.C.G.A. §34-9-281.

Georgia Statutory Law Requirements:

To be compensable, the disease must have arisen out of and in the course the employment, was contracted while employed and from a hazard of the employment which is in excess of that which the general public is exposed. O.C.G.A. §34-9-281(b).

Additional statutory requirements are found in the definition of occupational disease found in O.C.G.A. §34-9-280. The employee is required to prove the following:

  1. A direct causal connection between the work and the disease;

  2. The disease followed a natural incident of exposure by reason of the employment;

  3. The disease is not from something the worker has substantial exposure outside of employment;

  4. The disease is not an ordinary disease of life to which the general public is exposed;

  5. The disease must have had its origin in the employment risks and to have flowed therefrom.

Finally, loss of hearing, psychiatric and psychological problems, and heart and vascular problems are not considered to be occupational diseases. (Note: These may be compensable under certain situations and other sections of the code.)

Filing Procedures and Statute of Limitations for Occupational Disease Claims:

The filing procedures for an occupational disease claim are essentially the same as for filing of other Workers' Compensation benefits claims. It is important to determine the date of the accident and the proper employer to make a claim against. Both these have statutory requirements but are not always easy to determine. Generally, the last employer for whom the employee worked and was injuriously exposed is the employer responsible for the injury. The date of the accident is the last day the employee worked for any employer or the date on which the worker first suffers disability from the occupational disease. Provided however, the date of accident is determined by the date which produces the highest average weekly wage and not by the later date of these two dates.

The worker must give notice to the employer and must file his/her claim with the State Board of Workers' Compensation as required by the Workers' Compensation statutes. Determining the times within which to give notice and/or to file a claim is complicated and beyond the scope of this article. As a general rule, as soon as the worker is aware that he/she has or may have an occupational disease injury, contact a Workers' Compensation attorney about the injury. Do not assume it is too late to file. Do not wait. Give notice to the employer and file a claim with the State Board of Workers' Compensation as soon as possible.

CONTACT ATTORNEY

An experienced attorney familiar with Workers' Compensation law can help you protect your rights and can help you get the benefits you deserve. We have the knowledge, experience and skill to assist you in dealing with the process of obtaining the medical and income benefits you need when you are unable to work due to injury on the job or work-related disease . We represent workers in Workers' Compensation injury and disease claims throughout North Georgia including Cobb County, Cherokee County, Bartow County, Floyd County, Paulding County, Fulton County and Forsyth County. Contact us today to discuss your situation and the benefits you are be entitled to receive.

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