Does Workers Compensation Cover Illness As Well As Injury

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Employers required by law to provide workers' compensation insurance coverage for employees must usually include, in addition to accidental injury, provisions for problems and illnesses caused by occupational exposures. These illnesses have to arise out of and in the course of employment. The working conditions have to have carried particular risks of afflicting an employee with an illness. Stress-related illness such as psychological, heart, or digestive disorders, loss of hearing from exposure to noise, repetitive motion injuries, or sickness as a result of working with a toxic substance are be examples of long-term issues that may be covered under workers' compensation laws. Just because an injury or illness cannot be tied to a single precipitating event or occurrence does not exclude it from being considered as a valid claim.

Workers' compensation is a type of insurance that accommodates employees who need compensation for medical care due to an injury during the course of work, in exchange for the employee's forfeiture of their right to sue their employer for negligence. Plans vary according to jurisdictions, though they can be made for weekly payments instead of wages as a type of disability insurance, compensation for past and future economic losses, the payment or reimbursement of the medical expenses as a type of health insurance, and benefits payable to the depends of workers who were killed as a type of life insurance. Not included in workers' compensation plans are punitive damages for employer negligence and general damages for pain and suffering.

Some exposures that occurred many years prior to symptoms' appearance may also be covered by the workers' compensation laws. Health problems from toxic mold exposure at the workplace can be commonly covered by workers' compensation. Coal miners who contacted black lung disease are another example of a disease that's covered. Asbestos-related illnesses, which typically manifest themselves 10-40 years after the employee's initial exposure, are an example of occupational exposure that would not be immediately apparent but may still be compensable.

As with all workers' compensation claims, the claimant has an obligation to immediately report the work-related injury or illness to the employer even if he or she no longer works for that employer. When an occupational exposure results in an injury or illness that was not apparent at the time of the exposure, it is imperative that a claim be filed as soon as the claimant becomes aware of the problem. Workers' compensation laws have strict guidelines regarding the timeliness of reporting injuries. Penalties or exclusions might apply as a result of failure to comply with those guidelines, which might diminish the employer's responsibility.

While under initial investigation, the insurance provider will require that the claimant be seen by a physician or at a medical facility of their designation, even if the employee's private physician originally diagnosed the problem. In the case of long-term problems and illnesses, some states make provisions within the worker's compensation law that the injured employee may eventually revert to care with his or her preferred physician or medical care provider. It is up to the claimant to be aware of the law's requirements in this area and to be sure to adhere to them, in order to avoid costly mistakes that could void the insurance company's responsibility to pay what would otherwise be compensable expenses.


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