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When Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Workplace Illnesses?

Posted on in Workers' Compensation

When Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Workplace Illnesses?Sicknesses have a way of spreading around the workplace, due to the close proximity of co-workers and difficulty in killing all of the germs that can contaminate common areas. Communicable diseases such as influenza are rarely a reason to file a workers’ compensation claim. It is difficult to attribute the illness to your work, and using sick days will cover most of the cost to you. However, there are more serious illnesses that could prevent you from working for weeks or months and require hospitalization and expensive care. For some workers, the threat of illness at their workplace allows them to claim workers’ compensation benefits.

Occupational Disease

A serious illness that you contract from work may be an occupational disease, which workers’ compensation insurance will cover. For instance, Legionnaires Disease comes from bacteria that may contaminate a workplace, and nasty viruses can spread from person-to-person. Most occupational diseases do not come from viruses or bacteria but from long-term exposure to hazardous conditions, such as:

  • Airborne contaminants
  • Radiation poisoning
  • Lead poisoning
  • Loud working conditions

These workplace hazards can cause chronic conditions, such as respiratory diseases and cancer. An illness from a virus or bacteria can also cause permanent damage if the symptoms are severe.

Greater Risk

There are two facts that you must prove in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits for an occupational disease:

  • You contracted or developed the disease from your workplace.
  • People at your workplace were at greater risk for developing the disease, as compared to the general public. 

Proving the second fact is what limits workers’ compensation claims involving communicable illnesses. You may know that you caught a flu virus from your workplace because your coworkers were sick with the same symptoms. However, that did not mean that being at work inherently put you at greater risk of catching the flu virus than any other place you visited. Healthcare workers can claim that they are at greater risk of catching a communicable disease because they are working around sick patients. A Legionnaires Disease outbreak at your workplace would also qualify if the outbreak was limited to the facility where you work.

Contact a Crystal Lake, Illinois, Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Whether it is an injury or a disease, you are entitled to compensation if your work caused you to suffer a health condition that required medical treatment and prevented you from working. A McHenry County workers’ compensation attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, will make sure that you receive the benefits that you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.



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