If you own a business, you are likely required to carry workers compensation insurance in order to protect your employees who are injured on the job. Most injuries are physical such as sprains and breaks from falling or pulls from lifting heavy objects, etc. However, some employees may fall ill on the job.
Employees who contract an illness on the job related specifically to their work may qualify for workers compensation benefits.
You May Have Trouble Proving It
The main key to receiving workers compensation benefits is proving that the injury or illness occurred as a result of the work environment or requirements. Unfortunately, this can be difficult when it comes to an illness. Many illnesses may take longer to show symptoms which may give your employer or their insurer reason to think the illness was caused by something else.
The employee has an easier case when the disease has a known connection with the job, and when it is rare to contract the disease outside of that job. If a coal miner develops black lung, chances are he did not contract it from his stove. If someone works with asbestos and contracts asbestosis, it is not difficult to guess where they got the disease from.
Does Workers Compensation Insurance Apply to Pre-Existing Conditions?
In some cases, an employee's pre-existing condition may be covered by workers compensation insurance. This often occurs if the condition was aggravated by the employee’s work duties. For instance, a case of arthritis worsened by lifting heavy boxes at work may be covered, even if the problem did not actually originate at the job.
Exclusions and Exceptions
Note that the same exclusions and exceptions exist for illness as for injury. If an employee suffers an illness owing to their own negligence — such as if they break company policy — they likely will not be covered by workers compensation. Someone who develops a respiratory disease because they refused to wear a proper safety equipment around noxious chemicals, for instance, likely does not have a case against their employer.
Employers should know the limits of their workers compensation insurance policy while employees should learn to advocate for themselves when it comes to work-related injury. After an accident, employees should make sure to keep track of the appropriate details of the accident so that they are ready for the insurance provider.