Occupational diseases are health conditions that are contracted over time due to the nature of an employee’s job. These diseases can range from hearing loss and respiratory diseases due to exposure to harmful chemicals or dust, to conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome caused by repetitive physical activities.
In North Carolina, workers who contract occupational diseases may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Our Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers are here to help with your claim.
Injury By Accident vs Occupational Disease Claims
Workers’ compensation is an insurance system designed to provide employees with medical benefits and wage replacement if they get injured while performing their job duties. In Charlotte, North Carolina, workers’ compensation claims primarily fall into two categories: Injury by Accident and Occupational Disease claims.
Understanding Injury by Accident Claims
Injury by accident claims are initiated when an employee suffers an injury due to an unexpected or unusual event during their work. This could be anything from a slip and fall to an equipment malfunction that results in injury.
Delving into Occupational Disease Claims
Occupational diseases are illnesses or conditions that are caused by specific work duties or exposure to harmful substances in the workplace. These can range from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) to more serious conditions like asbestosis.
In North Carolina, certain medical conditions associated with workplace exposures are specifically identified as occupational diseases in North Carolina General Statute § 97-53. For a condition to be covered as an occupational disease, an employee with one of these “listed” conditions needs only to prove that their employment caused or substantially contributed to the condition.
Employees with a condition that is not listed in § 97-53 must also show that their employment placed them at an increased risk as compared to the general public for developing the condition.
Occupational Diseases: A Closer Look
The North Carolina General Statute 97-53 provides a list of conditions recognized as occupational diseases. For a worker to be eligible for compensation, they must demonstrate that their job significantly contributed to their condition. If the disease is not listed in the statute, the worker must prove that their job exposed them to a higher risk of contracting the disease than the general public.
The statute includes diseases such as:
- Diseases caused by chemical exposure
- Hearing impairment
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Radium poisoning
To be covered under North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation, an employee must provide proof that their employment significantly contributed to or caused their condition. If the condition is not listed in the general statute, the employee must also prove that their employment placed them at a greater risk of developing the condition than the risk faced by the general public.
Workers Comp Claims Process in North Carolina
Workers’ compensation claims for occupational diseases differ from injury by accident claims.
Claims for Accidents
An injury by accident claim is initiated when an employee suffers an injury due to an unexpected or unusual event during their work. Here’s how the claims process works:
- Report the Injury: As soon as the injury occurs, it should be reported to the employer. North Carolina law requires that the injury be reported within 30 days.
- Seek Medical Attention: The injured worker should seek immediate medical attention. The employer or their insurance company will typically direct the worker to a healthcare provider.
- File a Claim: The worker needs to file a claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission by filling out Form 18 and submitting it to the commission. A lawyer can ensure all necessary information is included and deadlines are met.
Claims for Occupational Diseases
Occupational diseases are conditions or illnesses that are caused by specific work duties or exposure to harmful substances in the workplace. The claims process for occupational diseases is slightly different:
- Report the Disease: As soon as the disease is diagnosed, it should be reported to the employer.
- File a Claim: Similar to injury by accident claims, the worker needs to file a claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. This involves completing a Form 18 and submitting it to the commission.
- Prove the Disease is Work-Related: If the disease isn’t mentioned in the North Carolina General Statute § 97-53, the employee must demonstrate that their job exposed them to a higher risk of contracting the condition compared to the average person.
Call Our Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
Occupational diseases can have a significant impact on an employee’s health and livelihood. It’s crucial for workers in Charlotte, North Carolina, to be aware of their rights and the resources available to them. If you believe you are suffering from an occupational disease, our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers are here to help. Contact us at 704-706-2689 for a free consultation.