When Can I Claim Workers Compensation Benefits for Occupational Diseases?
Statistics from the Florida Department of Financial Services show that between the years 2005 and 2012, the number of Florida workers compensation cases involving occupational diseases fell from 1,134 in 2005 to 395 in 2012. That represents a 65 percent decrease in the number of cases. In money terms, the amount of benefits paid has fallen from more than $18 million to slightly more than three million dollars, an 83 percent decrease.
Some commentators have attributed the general downward trend in the number of workers compensation cases to better workplace safety standards, however at least one research study suggests that this actually reflects a lack of reporting by employees.
An occupational disease is an illness that you contract due to the conditions of your working environment. Examples of occupational diseases include radiation sickness from working in a nuclear reactor, mesothelioma from handling asbestos, or carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive computer data entry.
In Florida, you can claim workers compensation benefits for an occupational disease if the following three conditions exist:
- The disease resulted from the nature of your employment
- You contracted the disease during your employment
- The nature of your employment was the major contributing cause of contracting the disease
Your disease is likely caused by the nature of your employment if your employment involved a significant hazard of contracting the disease, or if contracting the disease is substantially more common in your occupation than in other occupations.
If you are suffering from an occupational disease, you should contact an experienced West Palm Beach workers compensation attorney.