The workers’ compensation program exists to compensate employees who are injured on the job or become ill due to exposure to toxic substances in the workplace. In order to qualify for benefits, the worker has to prove that the illness or injury occurred as a direct result of something that happened at work. If a construction worker falls from a platform on a job site and suffers a traumatic brain injury, it is clear that he was injured at work and receiving workers’ comp benefits should not be a problem. However, if a worker was exposed to a toxic chemical at work and begins to experience symptoms of a neurological disorder weeks or months later, it will be much harder to prove the connection. In fact, workers’ comp insurance companies have set the burden of proof so high that the vast majority of claimants are denied.
Just How Bad Is it?
According to a study cited in a 2015 Occupational Safety and Health Administration report, more than 95 percent of ultimately fatal occupational diseases are never covered by workers’ comp. The insurance industry says that tighter restrictions are in place to reduce high rates of workers’ comp fraud, claiming that employees and their doctors often blame workplace exposure to chronic diseases when, in fact, there could be other contributing factors. Many of the diseases in question can be the result of a variety of causes. Cancers and lung ailments can certainly be a direct result of an exposure in the workplace, but could also be caused by genetics, smoking, or exposure in a home or neighborhood.
To make matters worse, many states require that worker’s comp claims be made within a limited amount of time after the exposure, but some diseases, like asbestosis, can take much longer than that to become symptomatic. Insurance adjusters may also give you a hard time over a claim for a repetitive-use injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, arguing that actions you take outside of the workplace contributed to your condition.
What Can You Do?
If you are suffering from a disease that you believe was caused by exposure to a chemical or other toxic substance in the workplace like asbestosis, mesothelioma, silicosis, or acute myelogenous leukemia, or a repetitive-use injury, do not attempt to navigate the workers’ compensation system in Missouri or Kansas on your own. Contact our experienced workers’ comp attorneys. We can help you gather the evidence you need to support your claim and beat the odds that are stacked against you. Click on the contact link on this page now. We are here to help.