When we think about worker's compensation issues, we invariably think of those injured on the job. Maybe it's a back injury that limits a return to work, or perhaps a slip, trip or fall. Outwardly apparent injuries are a no-brainer, it would seem, when it comes to qualifying for benefits. Often the victims of diseases caused by their chosen profession or employer find the road to being made whole again much more treacherous.
There's no denying the cause of an injury when it happens at work. Whether it is a piece of machinery that causes an amputation, or a repetitive motion injury brought on by doing the same thing day after day at your job, injuries are easy to trace back to one root cause. Even then, it can be hard to collect. But what if the condition that kept you out of work, or ended your career altogether, was brought on over time, due to a cause not able to be seen tangibly? This the situation many who suffer from a disease caused by their work environment deal with for the rest of their life.
Burden of Proof
Diseases typically don't set-in quickly, they are the result of exposure to a working condition that continues over time. They may also have other causes. Cancers and lung ailments are perhaps the most notorious work-related conditions, but can't they also be caused by other environmental issues? Therein lies the rub for those stricken with diseases they feel are caused by their work conditions. Even when they can pinpoint what may have made them sick, to prove their case they still must:
- Suspect their job was to blame.
- Build a case not only targeting the employer, but also refutes all other possible outside causes.
- Do all this in the timeframe outlined by their state of residence, which often doesn't allow for the full onset of symptoms.
High Cost of a Failing System
States can point to workers' compensation fraud as one of the reasons the bar is set so high for disease victims, and they are not derelict in doing so. Even when the disease is not imaginary, there are those doctors who will look for the deep pockets when deciding to assign blame.
Still, those who suffer from a disease caused by on-the-job conditions require medical treatment. Oregon and Ohio, two of only a few states that track outcomes of workers' compensation claims, tell the tale. Disease claims are denied three times as much as injury claims, putting the burden of paying for medical treatment on taxpayers and families, to the tune of an estimated $152 million, according to a . Most of that amount comes out-of-pocket from those families affected, putting a huge strain on their personal financial situation.
If you feel that you or someone you love is suffering from a disease with work-related causes, don't suffer in silence. Contact Greenman, Goldberg, Raby, Martinez today at 702-388-4476 and have your voice heard.