Experiencing a workplace-related illness, also known as an occupational illness, can range from a minor nuisance to a major health issue. Often the issue is resolved quickly with little disruption to either the employee or the workplace. In others, however, an employee may need to take time off from work and/or seek medical attention. In very serious cases, a worker may suffer effects that can impact their health for life.
Whatever the circumstance, when an employee in Columbia becomes ill or injured due to a work-related condition, it is important to understand what they should do and when they should do it to ensure they are able to pursue any workers’ compensation benefits they may be entitled to. The first step in doing so is to inform your employer of the occupational illness.
An occupational illness is defined as a medical condition that is caused by exposure to a hazardous environment or substance in the workplace. This can be an illness such as an occupational disease like silicosis, asbestosis, or mesothelioma that develops over time due to continued exposure. It can also be a repetitive-use injury suffered as a result of frequent or consistent use of the same body part, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Hearing loss, infectious diseases, and post-traumatic stress disorder are other examples of occupational illnesses.
In Columbia, MO, employees must take some specific steps to ensure they’re in compliance with Missouri workers’ compensation laws. If you miss specific deadlines or fail to file the necessary paperwork, you may be denied workers’ compensation benefits that you are otherwise entitled to.
The first step is to seek medical attention for the condition. Workers’ compensation claims must include medical evidence that proves there is a causal connection between your condition and your workplace environment or job duties. By visiting with a doctor, you can begin to build that evidence and document the injury.
Once you’ve been diagnosed and treated, the next step is to inform your employer that you have an occupational illness as soon as possible after diagnosis and no later than 30 days after diagnosis. Your written notification should include the date, time, and place that the injury or illness occurred and what type of occupational illness that you’ve been diagnosed with.
It is also important that your written notification include language indicating that you intend to file a workers’ compensation claim for the occupational illness. This helps ensure that your employer understands the situation and knows what actions may need to be taken.
An important step is for your employer to file a First Report of Injury within 30 days to the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation. Failure to do so may result in the denial of your workers’ compensation claim. A Columbia occupational illness lawyer can help make sure all necessary forms are completed properly and on time.
Workers’ compensation claims are oftentimes complicated, especially when the injury or illness does not appear suddenly. Often with occupational illnesses, the health issues have slowly developed over time and can be difficult to prove. In such cases, it takes a skilled and experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to help navigate the legal system and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Although Missouri is a no-fault system, workers’ compensation cases involving occupational illnesses can be complex. Unfortunately, it is not unheard of for employers or their insurers to provide limited compensation or even deny these claims outright, leaving workers with limited options. A workers’ compensation attorney can provide invaluable assistance in understanding your rights and helping you get the benefits you need and deserve to recover from occupational illness. They will fight to make sure you receive the maximum benefits available to you should an employer or insurer deny your occupational illness workers’ compensation claim.
If you have been diagnosed with an occupational illness in Columbia, Missouri, it is important to understand your legal rights and options. At the Law Office of Chris Miller, we can help guide you through the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim for an occupational illness. Our knowledgeable and experienced legal team will review your case and ensure you are taking the necessary steps to receive the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. Contact us today for your free consultation.