Workers’ Compensation and Long Term Injuries and Illnesses
Workers' compensation programs are designed to help individuals who have suffered from a work-related injury. Under workers' compensation programs, the injured worker is not required to show that his or her employer was at fault for the injury; as long as the injury or illness was related to work, it should be covered by workers' compensation.
In the case of injuries that occur as a result of an accident, such as a fall, or something falling on a person while at work, the fact that an injury is work-related, and when the injury occurred are pretty straightforward. However, many work-related injuries are the result of things that happen gradually over a long period of time. These injuries can present certain challenges to individuals seeking workers' compensation.
Examples of work-related long term injuries and illnesses in Georgia
Some common injuries and illnesses that are often work-related include carpal tunnel syndrome, asthma, back or shoulder injuries, mesothelioma, and black lung disease. These injuries are normally not the result of a single accident or case of trauma, but rather occur over time as the result of a repeated activity or exposure. Years of lifting heavy items can put strain on an individual's back, and exposure to asbestos has been shown to cause mesothelioma.
What are some challenges faced in gradual onset injuries and illnesses?
It is fairly common for workers' compensation claims to be challenged because the insurer or employer believes that the condition the individual is suffering from is not related to work. In some cases, such as black lung disease or mesothelioma, the link between work-related exposure and the disease is extremely well established. However, in some cases, such as back injuries, or arthritis, the injured person might find it more challenging to prove that the injury is in fact related to work, rather than to activities that they engage in outside of work. If a person who frequently lifts heavy objects develops a back problem, but also was injured previously in a non-work related accident, this can lead to challenges when it comes to proving the injury was work-related and not the result of the accident. Also, unlike a workplace accident where a single incident of trauma can be documented, and where witnesses might be able to attest to the events that occurred, these chronic injuries take time to develop and some of them are things that a person might suffer from as a result of activities that they engage in during their free time. For instance, a claim for carpal tunnel syndrome might seem like it should be clear if a person types a lot for work. But if the person also types a great deal in their free time, the claim could be challenged.
Another aspect that can be complicated is the timeline in which a person has to file a claim. In the event of an accident, the clock starts to run when the injury occurred. But since chronic injuries can take years to present, the time limit is less clear cut. Oftentimes, the time limit will be based on when the diagnosis occurred or when it became apparent that the injury was related to work. It is important to file these claims promptly to avoid challenges that are based on technicalities.
If you have suffered from a work-related injury or illness, you should consult with an attorney to discuss the facts of your claim and to determine the best way to pursue the benefits and compensation that you will need in order to recover, pay for medical care or to support yourself if your injury prevents you from working.
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Montlick & Associates has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over 33 years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
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