Over time, disabling medical conditions can develop from an employee being exposed to on-the-job health risks. These medical conditions are referred to as occupational diseases. Included in such health risks are exposure to harmful agents (such as chemicals) and physical activities that are damaging or repetitive. In many cases, occupational diseases can be covered under North Carolina’s Worker’s Compensation.
The North Carolina General Statute 97-53 specifies which conditions are covered under North Carolina’s Occupational Diseases. To be covered, proof of a condition (and that their employment caused the condition) is required. If it can be proved that their employment substantially contributed to or caused their condition, but the condition is not listed in the general statute, the employee must be able to also prove the they were placed at greater risk (by their employment) of developing the condition than the risk faced by the general public.
That sounds like a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo. That’s why, if you feel that you are suffering from an occupational disease, you would be best served to consult an experienced, knowledgeable attorney who specializes in Workers’ Compensation cases.
What if you’re exposed at more than one employer to a particular health risk? Where you were last exposed is with whom the compensation claim will lie. Special rules complicate claims for hearing loss, silicosis, asbestosis, and more.
What Occupational Diseases Are On the List?
Commonly associated with workplace exposures and certain medical conditions, specially identified occupational diseases found in North Carolina General Statutes include the following:
- Chemical exposure diseases
- Hearing loss
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Radium poisoning
- Chrome ulceration
- Phosphorus poisoning
- Mercury poisoning
- Lead poisoning
- Manganese, Zinc, Brass, Arsenic, and Anthrax poisoning
The employee must still be able to prove, however, that the development of the condition was significantly contributed to by their employment for occupational disease recovery under North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law.
Various Occupational Diseases
Since the above list only brushed the surface, it can be assumed that the actual list in the general statutes is pretty much a catchall provision – listing any and all conditions that could possibly present themselves due to an employment situation. What is not included in the list is diseases of an ordinary nature which employees could also be exposed to outside their job, and that the general public is equally as exposed to. Included in these could be degenerative conditions, tendinitis, and carpal tunnel.
North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Qualification
As stated, an employee claiming an occupational disease and, thereby, hoping to get Workers’ Compensation must be able to prove two things:
- The occupational disease was substantially contributed to by their employment.
- Compared to the general public, the employee was put at increased risk of acquiring the occupational disease due to their employment.
To make things even more confusing, there are notice and filing requirements for occupational disease claims. Without the representation of an experienced, knowledgeable attorney who specializes in Workers’ Compensation cases, it can be overwhelming trying to comprehend and adhere to the rules, stipulations, specifications, and regulations surrounding occupational disease.
Consult with Cardinal Law Partners if you or a loved one may have suffered an occupational disease. We can answer your questions and help you determine whether or not you have a case. If you do, we stand at the ready to fight for your rights according to North Carolina law. Contact us today for a free consultation.