Some jobs can cause workers to develop severe, disabling conditions that can affect them for a long time. These occupational diseases might be covered by Maryland’s workers’ compensation system. More information can be found below about these conditions and how they may impact workers. If you sustained an occupational disease through your line of work, it is crucial to contact a knowledgeable Silver Spring workers’ compensation lawyer at Goldberg Finnegan for help. We can discuss how you developed your condition and assess if workers’ compensation benefits may be available.
What is an Occupational Disease?
Under Maryland’s workers’ compensation law, an occupational disease is defined as a chronic disease or disorder caused by an activity of your job or through an environmental factor within the workplace. There are a variety of occupational diseases that affect various parts of the body, including the skin, bones, lungs and muscles.
Common examples of occupational diseases include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Contact dermatitis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow
- Hearing loss
- Hand-arm vibration syndrome
Causes of Occupational Diseases
Occupational diseases are caused by a variety of factors in the workplace, such as:
- Mental or emotional trauma
- Exposure to gases in the workplace
- Solvents used in the manufacturing of products
- Vibration that is constant or intermittent
- Extremely high or low temperatures
- Radiation poisoning
- Pressure to the body
- Farm chemicals in pesticides
- Toxic chemicals, including acid, disinfectants and solvents
- Exposure to high voltage electric current
- Exposure to loud noise on a consistent basis
- Repetitive motion, including repetitive heavy lifting or static motion
- Exposure to bacteria, fungi and viruses
There are a variety of industries that put workers at risk for developing an occupational disease, including auto repair, health care, hair care, catering, printing, factory work and construction.
Proving an Occupational Disease
If you file a workers’ compensation claim for an occupational disease, you must prove the disease meets two criteria to have a chance of receiving benefits. One criteria is the objective test where the individual must prove that the disease was caused by hazards that actually existed in your place of work.
The second criteria is that the symptoms and disease are consistent with those that are known to result from a physical, chemical or biological agent related to your employment.
If you satisfy these two tests, you must then prove, based on the weight of evidence, that your condition was actually caused by your employment. This means your condition is connected to actions in the course of your work.
Occupational Disease Presumptions
Under Maryland law, there is a presumption that certain diseases can be caused by certain types of employment. This means it will be assumed your disease is linked to your employment unless evidence is provided proving the disease is not linked to your employment.
For example, firefighters are assumed to have an occupational disease if they are diagnosed with the following conditions:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease resulting in partial or total disability
- Cancer, including prostate, rectal, throat, brain, testicular and breast cancer
If there is a presumption with your occupational disease, you may have an easier time obtaining the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.
Contact a Lawyer for Support
Occupational diseases can wreak havoc on your body and could prevent you from ever working in the same industry again. You may need constant medical support to make it through the day.
It is crucial to hire a lawyer to help you through the workers’ compensation process. An experienced lawyer will know how to pursue the benefits you deserve so you can move forward with your life.
Contact the skilled legal team at Goldberg Finnegan to discuss your options in a free, no obligation legal consultation. We will evaluate your claim and then develop a legal strategy customized to your circumstances.