Workers’ Compensation protects workers who develop medial or psychological difficulties or ailments from long time exposures derived from the workplace. Such conditions may develop into occupational diseases when they grow out of or from the work environment and usually occur over extended periods of time. This does not mean that just because you discover that you have a medical problem while you were at work that it is compensable. An occupational disease must be a condition that develops from the exposure at work and be normally associated with the specific type of job activity that you perform regularly over time, “nature of the work” is a term normally associated with such claims. One time exposures are normally considered accidents. Repetitive exposures create a basis for claims of occupational diseases.
Some occupational diseases are lung ailments derived from slow acting dust diseases, carpal tunnel conditions associated with typing, eye or neck problems caused by constant use of computer screens, knee injuries for carpet installer using kick devices. In short; to have a proper claim, the condition must be developed from repetitive activity, not a one time episode. If you notice a one time episode it is more readily established as being caused by the one time event at a specific time and place, hence an injury. Occupational diseases are more indefinite as to a specific time of the occurrence or time constraints but , filing for and establishing successful claims are still controlled by special time limitations as found in the WCL. Ultimately, regardless of the condition, evidence is still required to prove causal relation. Such exposure must be supported by medical / expert opinion to support the claim. Not all doctors readily associate the presenting symptom with a longitudinal exposure. Everyone can immediately understand that a back, leg or arm injury can occur from a slip and fall. It becomes more difficult to understand and appreciate the time line associated with underlining occupational exposures.
For these types of claims as in all Workers’ Compensation claims, it is best to consult a legal representative for detailed advise. Hence as stated throughout these discussions, no attorney client relationship is established by these blogs and all such discussion is limited by my Disclaimer found throughout these articles.