Many people associate workers’ compensation benefits with work-related injuries such as soft tissue sprains, broken bones, and head trauma. The workers’ compensation system in Oklahoma does cover injuries like these, but it also covers work-related illnesses, which are known as occupational diseases.
The workers’ compensation laws in Oklahoma are incredibly complex. For this reason, it can be difficult to determine whether or not your work-related illness is covered by the workers’ compensation system. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if you are covered:
Is There A Link Between Your Employment and the Illness?
This is the most important question that you should ask when determining if an occupational disease is covered. An illness is only covered by the workers’ compensation system if there is a causal connection between the victim’s employment and the disease.
For example, silicosis is a serious lung disease that is caused by inhaling silica, which is a mineral found in sand and rock. Research has shown that miners are at risk of inhaling silica every time they disturb the earth’s crust. Miners are exposed to the hazard that is known to cause silicosis, which means there is a causal connection between mining and silicosis.
Is Your Illness A Contagious or Infectious Disease?
In most cases, contagious or infectious diseases are not covered by the workers’ compensation system. However, there is an exception for contagious or infectious diseases that are contracted in the course and scope of the victim’s employment.
For example, MRSA is an infectious disease, so this normally would not be covered by the workers’ compensation system. But it may be covered if a healthcare worker contracts MRSA by coming into contact with an infected patient. In this case, the worker contracted the illness in the course and scope of their employment, so it should be covered by the workers’ compensation system.
Was the General Public Exposed to the Illness?
The workers’ compensation system will not cover an occupational disease unless it is linked to your employment. For this reason, the workers’ compensation system will not cover “ordinary diseases of life” that the general public is also exposed to on a regular basis. This is because your job did not necessarily put you at a greater risk of contracting the disease.
Have you been diagnosed with an occupational disease? Discuss your case with the experienced team of attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. as soon as possible. Focus solely on your recovery while we work tirelessly to secure your workers’ compensation benefits. Call us at (918) 582-2500 or toll-free at (800) 722-8880 or complete the simple form below for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.