Generally, when people think of harm encountered in the workplace, they think of bodily injuries caused by accidents or repetitive use. People can also develop illnesses due to conditions or substances encountered at work, and if they do, they may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Proving an illness is work-related can be challenging, and it is prudent for anyone suffering from an occupational disease to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Valerie Crown of The Law Firm of Valerie J. Crown, Attorney at Law, P.C. is a seasoned Rockland County workers’ compensation lawyer who can advise you of your rights and help you to pursue a just outcome. Ms. Crown frequently represents people in workers’ compensation cases in Rockland County, and in Westchester, Orange, Dutchess, and Ulster Counties.Illnesses Caused by Workplace Conditions
Multiple factors can cause occupational illnesses. One of the most common triggers of work-related diseases is exposure to harmful chemicals, like asbestos or silica, which can cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, and silicosis. People who work in medical care facilities may be exposed to viral and bacterial illnesses, like pneumonia and hepatitis, if they come into contact with the bodily fluids of infected patients. In some instances, extreme stress in the workplace can cause a worker to suffer psychological illnesses.Hurdles to Recovering Benefits for Occupational Illnesses
The primary obstacles, employees seeking benefits for occupational illnesses face, are proving their illnesses are work-related and their claims are timely. In New York, only diseases that arise during the course and scope of work are compensable. In many instances, an employer may argue that an employee’s illness did not arise due to workplace conditions to avoid paying benefits. Thus, an employee, seeking benefits for a disease or condition, may need to produce evidence that shows a causal link between his or her illness and conditions that are unique to the workplace.
Similarly, an employer may argue that an employee did not file a claim for benefits within the time required by the statute of limitations. Under New York law, injured employees generally must pursue workers’ compensation claims within two years of the date of their harm. Many occupational illnesses do not develop until decades after exposure to harmful substances, however. Thus, the New York legislature created a statutory exception for people suffering from occupational illnesses that allows them to pursue claims within two years from the date the disability arises or within two years of when they know or reasonably should know that their illness was caused by the nature of their employment. As such, an employee may need to demonstrate that a claim is timely to recover benefits.Benefits Recoverable for Occupational Illnesses
People suffering from occupational illnesses may be eligible to recover workers’ compensation medical and disability benefits. Medical benefits include the cost of medical expenses for treating occupational illnesses, including hospitalization, therapy, and assistive devices. Parties generally must be treated by doctors, authorized by the Workers’ Compensation Board, to treat sick workers.
Sick employees may also be granted disability benefits if they suffer a loss of income because they are unable to perform their job duties or cannot work due to their illnesses. Disability benefits may be awarded on a temporary or permanent basis for both partial and total disabilities. Multiple factors are taken into account in determining what benefits an employee is owed, including state limits, the degree of the employee’s disability, and the average weekly wage he or she earned before the illness.Meet With an Experienced Rockland County Attorney
Occupational illnesses typically result in permanent detriments, but they may take years to develop, and employers are often reluctant to pay workers the benefits they are owed. If you sustained an occupational illness, you should consult with an attorney to discuss your rights. Valerie Crown of The Law Firm of Valerie J. Crown, Attorney at Law, P.C. is an experienced Rockland County attorney with the skills and resources needed to help injured workers recover the benefits they deserve. We regularly represent people in workers’ compensation cases in Rockland County and in Westchester, Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange Counties. You can reach Ms. Crown through the form online or by calling 845.708.5900 to set up a meeting.