Employees that suffer from occupational diseases may claim and receive workers’ compensation benefits. These types of disease usually occur from exposure at work and have a slow onset that may not be recognized for years. Occupational diseases must also be causally related to the exposure at work. Additionally, in occupational disease cases, there must be a disablement as a result of the occupational disease. A disablement is the employee becoming totally or partially incapacitated because of the occupational disease. The disablement must stop the employee from performing the employment in the last occupation which injuriously exposed the worker to the hazards of the disease. There are many factors that must be examined to determine if some has a disablement. It is not as simple as whether the person missed time from their employment. In occupational disease cases, the attorney representing the claimant has the burden of choosing the correct employer for which to file the claim for benefits against. This can get very tricky if the employee has two jobs concurrently which may have the same exposure effects. The general rule is that the employer that had the last injurious exposure to the hazards of the disease should pay for the claim. Occupational diseases may also be found compensable if they are an aggravation of a preexisting condition. Claimants with occupational diseases are entitled to claim the same indemnity and medical benefits of claims that were filed under an accidental injury.Occupational Deafness
These are claims where the employee must prove that the employee has a certain level of hearing loss and prove that the loss came from occupational exposure to noise at least contributed to by the employer. These claims do not require a disablement. These claims do require that the employee has worked for the employer for a minimum of 90 days.Presumptive Occupational Diseases
When a claim is filed for one of the presumptive occupational disease claims and the worker has proof that they suffer from one of these diseases, the burden shifts to the employer/insurer to exclude the employment as a cause. This part of the statute is aimed at the large class of employees titled under various types of firefighters, police officers, sheriffs, correctional officers and certain members of the MNCPPC. Many of these employees will have different job titles and may be entitled to compensation for one of these presumptive diseases. These types of presumptive diseases include heart disease, hypertension, lung disease, lyme disease, and certain types of cancer. Not all employees will be entitled to benefits for any of these diseases. These types of employees are given presumptions that their injuries are compensable claims if they can prove they fall within the legislatures intent for having a presumptive occupational disease.
When an injured worker presents evidence that they suffer from one of the presumptive occupational diseases and the employee has filed a claim for that presumptive disease, the employee has met their burden under the statute. The employer is left with trying to show that non work related hazards caused the conditions presumptive occupational disease.
Please contact the Maryland Workers Compensation Lawyers at Foran & Foran, P.A. to discuss this matter further.