Does Worker’s Compensation Cover Chronic Illness as Well as Injury?

When you fall and break your arm at work, there is no question that you should file for worker’s compensation. Providing you weren’t intoxicated, typically there is no question as to whether or not you will get approved for it. However, when you develop a chronic illness where your job could be argued that it may or may not be a contributing factor, then the waters get a little more murky. However, there is one thing that you shouldn’t question, you have the right to file for worker’s compensation if you think your chronic illness is caused by your job.

Every industry has a long-term, chronic illness that they are at risk for. For miners, they have black lung, for office workers, they have carpal tunnel, and construction workers have to worry about asbestos exposure. However, some chronic illnesses, like black lung, are so obviously caused by inhalation of coal over a period of time. When you work in a coal mine, there is no question as to whether or not that happened at work. However, for injuries like carpal tunnel where workers often type outside their jobs, they can be a little more difficult to prove.

Types of Chronic Illness Covered by Worker’s Compensation

There is a wide range of chronic illnesses that can be covered by worker’s compensation. Some can be harder to prove than others, but some common ones include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Chronic back pain
  • Bursitis of the shoulder
  • Asthma
  • Mesothelioma

Even if you had a pre-existing condition before finding employment at your current company, you may actually be eligible to receive worker’s compensation as well if your job aggravated the condition.

How to Receive Worker’s Compensation for Chronic Condition

In many cases, providing that a chronic illness was caused or aggravated by your job is the real task and the actual filing for worker’s compensation is the easy part. The key is to start early and leave a well documented paper trail in order to get your case approved.

  • Seek medical attention – For chronic conditions, you need to start your medical attention early, as in as soon as you feel discomfort. Not only does this establish the injury and when the real discomfort started, but if you get treatment for it early, it may not be such an issue in the future. You will also want to consult with your doctor to find out if your job was a contributing factor.
  • Report the injury – After seeking medical attention, you will want to report your injury to your supervisor as soon as it caused discomfort. Typically a state has limitations on how long you can report your injury after it occurs to get worker’s compensation. This can be tricky with chronic conditions as they often don’t just happen at once. The rule of thumb is to report it when you need medical attention for it or as soon as you receive a diagnosis. You will not only get to file a claim to cover your medical bills, but you may also be offered a less strenuous position.
  • Find a good attorney – If you just had a simple injury at work, you might be able to get away with filing a claim without representation. However, filing worker’s compensation for a chronic illness is the furthest thing from a simple injury. You will want to invest in a knowledgeable worker’s compensation lawyer that can help you get benefits that can not only cover your initial medical bills, but all the ones that will come in the further from a chronic illness that is not so easily cleared up. If you are in the St. Paul area and need a skilled attorney, contact us today.