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Occupational Illness

An occupational illness can be any chronic disease or condition that results from an individual’s job or work-related activities. Generally, occupational illnesses are identified when a particular group of workers suffers a medical condition at a higher rate than the general population.

The laws and regulations of the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) system presume that certain medical conditions are caused by one’s work environment and activities, placing the burden of proof on the employer or insurer if they seek to demonstrate that the illness arose from another cause outside the workplace. Call us today to speak to an experienced Intake Specialist for a Free Case Review and to learn about how Emery | Reddy, PLLC may be able to help you with your claim.

Some Examples of Occupational Illness Include:

  • Asbestosis: Among asbestos miners and those who work with friable asbestos insulation
  • Black lung: Otherwise known as coal miner’s pneumoconiosis
  • Byssinosis: Among cotton textile workers
  • Occupational asthma: Occurs when an individual is exposed and reacts to an asthma trigger in the workplace. Triggers are external factors or conditions in one’s own body that cause asthma to arise or worsen. Workers who experience a high incidence of occupational asthma include healthcare workers, construction workers, food preparation and processing or food service employees, metal workers, factory workers, agricultural workers, electronics workers, carpet makers, janitors and cleaning staff, painters, and textile workers.
  • Skin diseases: Eczema, urticaria, sunburn, and skin cancer. High-risk occupations include hairdressing, healthcare, printing, motor vehicle repair, construction, and many others.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)Common among workers whose jobs involve repetitive motions with the hands and wrists. Common examples include workers in information technology and the poultry industry.
  • Lead poisoning: Affects workers in industries that previously or currently process or use lead or lead compounds
  • Latent injury claims: Can involve substances like asbestos, mold, silica, carbon monoxide, lead paint, benzene, various chemicals, carcinogens, and EPA-regulated substances

L&I Assessment of Occupational Illness

doctor reviewing a lung xray of a worker with an occupational illness

One of the first factors that L&I evaluates in an occupational illness claim is the age or duration of a worker’s medical condition. Occupational illness claims are quite different from more straightforward work injuries that can be traced to a particular moment in time (for example, a wrist fracture that occurred one day or one week ago). An occupational illness may have begun to develop ten or twenty years earlier while an individual worked in a completely different industry. Many of these medical conditions are latent, meaning the worker does not know precisely when he or she began to suffer the effects of the disease, which worsens progressively over a period of time. Learn more about the differences between occupational illness and industrial injury.

A wide spectrum of factors can go into an occupational illness claim, including employment history, the length of time worked at particular jobs, the work conditions at each place of employment, when the illness began to develop, etc. In addition, pinpointing the moment in time when an occupational illness arose twenty or thirty years earlier can be fraught with speculation.

It is also important to note that occupational illness claims must be received within two years from the date that your doctor notifies you in writing that your injury is work-related.

For help recovering the maximum L&I benefits from your occupational illness claim with L&I, call Emery | Reddy today to speak to an experienced Intake Specialist and learn more about how our Labor and Industries Attorneys may be able to help you.

Is My Occupational Illness a Third-Party Claim or an L&I Claim?

Third-Party Claim

third-party claim is one in which someone other than your employer or co-worker is responsible for your injury. If you have been injured on the job due to someone else’s actions or negligence, you may be entitled to additional compensation through a third-party claim, which combines your L&I claim with a personal injury claim using the same facts.

Unlike workers’ compensation payments, there is no limit to the amount of compensation an injured worker may seek in third-party damages. Third-party claims are private matters and are typically litigated directly with the Washington State Superior Court.

If your occupational illness leaves you out of work for an extended period of time,  you may be entitled to compensation for pain, suffering, and lost wages.

L&I Claim

An L&I claim results from a workplace injury or occupational illness. An L&I claim is monitored and managed by an L&I Claims Manager who sees the process through from initial claim filing to closure. If all goes as planned, your claim is accepted by L&I and you will receive certain benefits.

When you are injured or contract certain types of illnesses at work, you are entitled to certain workers’ compensation benefits. You can file an L&I claim in Washington state through the L&I website’s File Fast tool, by calling the L&I office at 877.561.3453, or at your doctor’s office. After you file, it is imperative that you call an experienced L&I attorney to help you navigate the L&I claims process.

Our Seattle L&I Attorneys Will Help You Recover:

  • Medical benefits: L&I medical benefits will cover all medical costs associated with your claim. This can include doctor appointments, treatments, surgeries, occupational therapy, and prescription medications.
  • Time-loss and wage replacement: If you are approved for time-loss benefits, you may receive compensation for the lost wages and vocational rehabilitation.

1. L&I disability pension: life-long benefit awarded to injured workers who will never be able to return to any gainful employment due to a severe or life-threatening injury.

2. Permanent partial disability (PPD) award: a one-time sum paid to injured workers when their L&I claim is closed. The worker can re-enter the workforce following a PPD award.

3. Claim resolution settlement agreement (CRSA): an L&I settlement option where all parties agree to close an injury claim for a specified amount. When agreeing to this settlement type, the injured worker exchanges all future L&I benefits, except medical, for the payment.

We understand that many families depend on the income of an injured worker, and our L&I and occupational illness attorneys are dedicated to winning the benefits and compensation you are entitled to by law. Our practice was founded on a commitment to advocating for workers’ rights, and we are proud of our record protecting the injured and disabled. Call us today to learn how Emery | Reddy can help you with your occupational illness L&I claim.


Watch This Video to Learn More about How Employment Law and L&I Claims Work Together

Your L&I Claim Is Worth More If You Also Have an Employment Claim

A significant number of L&I — workers’ compensation claims often involve additional legal claims such as employment or third-party claims. Many people file their claims without seeking representation from an L&I attorney and thus never discover that, in addition to their L&I claim, they may be missing out on the ability to file an employment claim or a third-party claim. Pursuing additional legal action with the help of an experienced Labor and Industries attorney has the potential to significantly increase a claim’s overall compensation. At Emery | Reddy, our experienced attorneys practice both Employment and Workers’ Compensation Law, which means we will investigate all aspects of your claim to make sure you aren’t missing out on any potential benefits.

What Is an Employment Claim?

Many injured workers find that their employer has taken, or plans to take, adverse action against them because they filed an L&I claim or they are out of work. You can file a lawsuit against your employer for several reasons, including retaliation, wrongful termination, disability discrimination, or unpaid wages. An L&I attorney who is experienced in both L&I — Workers’ Compensation Law and Employment Law can help you with your L&I claim while simultaneously filing a federal or state law claim for the violation of workers’ rights by your employer.

Who Is at Fault for an Occupational Illness?

L&I is a no-fault system, ensuring compensation for any occupational illness. However, if a third party is involved in causing your illness, you may be able to pursue legal action against them for additional compensation under third-party claims.

How Do I Know If I Have a Strong L&I Claim?

If you suffer from an occupational illness and wonder if you should get help with your L&I claim, ask yourself the following:

If any of the above apply to you, Emery | Reddy may be able to help.

Navigating a workers’ compensation claim can be difficult and very time-consuming, especially when you’re ill or injured. You want to focus on healing and make sure your bills are paid, but if you don’t file things properly or on time, your health, home, and job could be in jeopardy. Many individuals miss out on much-needed L&I benefits because they don’t understand what to do or how to get the most compensation for their injuries. If you are experiencing any challenges in your case, a Labor and Industries attorney can assist you. By contacting Emery | Reddy as soon as possible after you’ve been injured, we can help you avoid the common pitfalls of filing and navigating an L&I claim. Our Seattle L&I Attorneys are here for you every step of the way.

karolina arthur in her office on the phone with a client in the emery reddy downtown seattle offices

Emery | Reddy Can Help You with Your L&I Claim

Emery | Reddy is the only law firm in Washington state that is equipped to provide comprehensive representation on your case from every angle. Our Seattle L&I Attorneys thoroughly assess every case to determine if our clients have additional claims, and at times this can extend far beyond the underlying workers’ compensation claim.

If you have been injured in the workplace, call Emery | Reddy today for a Free Case Review with an experienced Intake Specialist to learn more about how we may be able help you.

Want More Information?

Repetitive stress injuries result when the same or similar actions are performed again and again. Learn more about how to address such injuries in an L&I claim.

Most people suffering from a personal injury have similar questions. Read more to learn the answers to some of the most common personal injury accident questions that we hear from injured workers.

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to injured workers. Learn more about the claims process, benefits and awards, and IMEs.

We fight for you

Meet the Team

The Personal Injury Attorneys at Emery | Reddy, PLLC are passionate about helping workers with L&I claims and Employment Law issues. We Help Workers®. It’s our motto and what drives us every day.

We know how L&I and big companies think, and we understand the tactics they use. Our Labor and Industries Attorneys use that knowledge coupled with over three decades of experience to help our clients get access to the L&I benefits to which they are legally entitled and hold employers accountable when they break the law.

If you’re struggling with an L&I claim, injury, or legal issue at work, call us for a Free Case Review with an experienced Intake Specialist to learn more about how Emery | Reddy may be able to help you today.

“You won't be blinded by any fake bells and whistles to distract you but more so be welcomed under their care and guidance while they invest all their countless hours, knowledge and resources to get you through your tough ordeal to ensure they've exhausted everything to make sure you're taken care of to their fullest potential.”

— Manny T.

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