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Occupational Disease

Washington State Occupational Disease Attorneys

Download L&I claim forms for Occupational Disease.

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

The laws and regulations of Washington’s 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 that disease arose from another cause outside the workplace.

Some examples of occupational disease include:

  • Lung diseases including asbestosis among asbestos miners and those who work with friable asbestos insulation; black lung (coal miner’s pneumoconiosis); byssinosis among cotton textile workers.
  • Occupational asthma: 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 including eczema, urticaria, sunburn and skin cancer. High-risk occupations include hairdressing, healthcare, printing, motor vehicle repair, construction, and many others.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: CTS is common among persons who work in jobs involving 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, and various chemicals, carcinogens, and EPA-regulated substances.

L&I Assessment of Occupational Illness

One of the first factors that L&I evaluates in an occupational disease 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 facture that occurred one day or one week ago). An occupational disease 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.

A wide spectrum of factors can go into an occupational disease 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 disease arose twenty or thirty years earlier can be fraught with speculation. For help recovering the maximum benefits from your occupational disease claim with L&I, contact a Washington Workers Compensation Lawyer at Emery Reddy.

A Workers’ Compensation lawyer will help you recover:

  • Current and ongoing medical costs
  • Lost wages and lost potential income
  • Damages for pain and suffering
  • Lost quality of life from a permanent injury, disability or other factors

We understand that many families depend on the income of an injured worker, and our Workers’ Compensation lawyers are dedicated to winning the benefits and compensation you deserve. Our practice was founded on a commitment to advocating for workers’ rights, and we are proud of our record protecting the injured and disabled. Contact one of our attorneys today for a free consultation on your occupational disease or workers’ compensation claim.

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