Chronic illnesses like cancer and carpal tunnel syndrome can be job-related, caused by exposure to toxic chemicals, an injury that seemed minor at the time, or even repetitive motion. The symptoms can slowly build up over time, making it difficult or impossible to function. Are chronic conditions like these covered by workers’ compensation?
Chronic Conditions and Workers’ Compensation
Most Pennsylvania employers are required by law to provide their employees with no-fault workers’ compensation coverage. This means that injured workers can receive payments to cover their medical costs for job-related incidents even when they were responsible for what happened. It is easier to connect a witnessed workplace accident to an injury, but establishing direct links to chronic conditions is more complicated. To receive compensation, an employee must build a strong case that links a workplace incident to their injury or illness.
Other examples of work-related conditions that build up over time include:
- Back pain
- Hearing loss
- Vision loss
How Should I Make a Workers’ Compensation Claim for a Chronic Illness?
Time is of the essence when making workers’ compensation claims. If you have developed a chronic, work-related illness, it is best to seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible. Once you have a diagnosis and treatment plan that links your symptoms to work, you can report it to your supervisor. In many cases, continuing to work with an injury or illness only makes the condition worse.
Once you report the medical issue to a supervisor, you may be told to file a workers’ compensation claim if the illness:
- Has lasted for a year or more
- Limits your ability to engage in certain activities
- Requires ongoing medical treatment
The process for completing the paperwork varies, and depends on the state you work in and your employer’s requirements.
Will My Chronic Illness Be Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
The answer to this is contingent on the type of chronic illness and your evidence. For example, if there is solid proof that you were exposed to asbestos at work and were diagnosed with lung cancer, there is a stronger chance that workers’ compensation will cover your expenses. Denials are more common when employees cite chronic back pain and other conditions that are harder to link to workplaces.
Pre-existing conditions like a herniated disc can be exacerbated by work, and it is possible to get workers’ compensation when this happens. You may get coverage for the aggravated condition, but not for earlier treatments that you had before things got worse.
If you are denied workers’ compensation coverage for a chronic illness, all is not lost. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you file a petition, help get witness testimony, and represent you at hearings. When claims get denied a second time, there may be an opportunity to appeal the court’s decision.
Contact the West Chester Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC if Your Workers’ Compensation Claim Was Denied
The pain and suffering from chronic illnesses are bad enough, but can be worse when the problem is work-related and you are denied compensation. For a free legal consultation, reach out to the skilled West Chester workers’ compensation lawyers at Wusinich & Sweeney, LLC. Call us at 610-594-1600 or complete our online form for more information or to schedule a free, confidential consultation. From our offices in Exton, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Downingtown, West Chester, Exton, Coatesville, Phoenixville, Malvern, Lyndell, Wagontown, Uwchlan, Parkesburg, Chester Springs, Lancaster County, Reading, and Morgantown.