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Can I get workers' compensation for occupational disease?

When Louisiana workers are injured on the job with a clear physical injury such as broken bones, lacerations, back injuries and more, the problem is often clear to the naked eye. Other issues are less obvious. For example, workers who are seeking workers' compensation might not even be aware that in some cases they can be approved for benefits for occupational disease. Understanding the law is essential before applying. If a worker is injured or dies because of occupational disease, it will be viewed in the same way as if there was a personal injury.

Occupational disease is a disease or illness with causes and characteristics that are unique to a type of job, trade or process with the employee subject to exposure of the disease. If a person is working as a laboratory technician and is disabled after contracting a disease, being poisoned or having conditions related to this or dies as a result, he or she may be eligible for workers' compensation and the family for benefits. A laboratory technician is considered a person who has skills in technical details of the work; works in a location where there are experiments in any scientific area; applies those skills and uses testing equipment, instruments and the like; and during the process works with drugs, chemicals, explosives and items that are for analysis.

If there is a claim for occupational disease, the claim must be made within one year of: the disease manifesting; the employee being disabled as a result; and the employee knowing or having a reasonable belief that the disease is related to the occupation. If there is a death, the family and beneficiaries must file the claim within one year of the death. False representation of not having had the disease before taking the job will result in a denial of workers' compensation benefits. The employer is responsible to place a notification at the workplace as to the time limitations. Failure to do so will extend by six months the amount of time for workers to file a claim.

Should they become ill or suffer a condition because of it, people who are working in occupations in which there are risks for occupational disease are protected similarly to those who are working in any job. Therefore, they can apply for workers' compensation. For help with a claim, it is important to speak to an attorney.

Source: legis.la.gov, "1031.1. Occupational disease," accessed Aug. 14, 2017

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