Exposure to various health hazards in the workplace can lead to debilitating health conditions known as occupational diseases. Florida workers’ compensation covers occupational illnesses as well as workplace injuries.
Our Sunrise workers’ compensation lawyers explain what Florida law says about this topic and what to do if you become sick because of your job. For help getting the benefits you deserve, contact us today.
What Is an Occupational Disease?
Florida law defines an occupational disease as a disease caused by the nature or working conditions of a specific job or occupation, such as exposure to certain chemicals or repetitive movements. The law also mentions that there should be scientific studies proving that being exposed to certain substances at work can lead to the specific illness the employee has.
Examples of occupational diseases include carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and asbestosis.
Workers’ Compensation for Occupational Diseases
Under Florida state law, if your disease can be proven to be an occupational disease, it is compensable by workers’ compensation. To qualify for workers’ compensation, you must prove that your work was the major contributing cause of your disease with medical evidence such as doctor’s reports.
If you already had the disease when you started working with your employer and falsely claimed that you had not previously been disabled or laid off or compensated for that disease, then you will not be eligible for workers’ compensation.
You must notify your employer within 90 days of when you were diagnosed or learned the condition was related to your work. If you fail to notify your employer within the proper timeframe, you will not be eligible for compensation.
If you have been diagnosed with an occupational illness, but have been denied workers’ compensation benefits, an attorney can advocate for you in your case.
Workers’ Compensation Process in Florida
Here are the key steps in the workers’ compensation process if you have an occupational illness.
- Reporting the Injury: You must report your illness to your employer within 90 days of being diagnosed or learning that your condition is caused by your job.
- Acceptance or Denial: The employer’s insurer company will either accept the claim and begin paying benefits, or deny the claim.
- Try to Resolve a Dispute: If you have been denied workers’ compensation benefits, an experienced lawyer can advocate for you in talks with the insurance company.
- File a Claim: You must file a Petition for Benefits with the Office of the Judge of Compensation Claims within two years of your diagnosis or when you became disabled.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Florida
Workers’ compensation benefits in Florida fall into four categories:
- Medical Benefits: These cover past and future medical bills and health care expenses related to the work-related injury or illness.
- Indemnity Benefits: Also known as lost wages or disability, these benefits provide income replacement for workers who are unable to work due to their injury or illness.
- Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits: These benefits provide resources and support to help injured workers return to work or find new employment.
- Death Benefits: These benefits are provided to the dependents of a worker who dies as a result of a work-related injury or illness.
Prevention of Occupational Diseases
Preventing occupational diseases is a shared responsibility between employers and employees. Employers are charged with the duty of ensuring the safety of their employees at all times. This includes providing appropriate training, maintaining safe working conditions, and implementing measures to minimize exposure to harmful substances.
Call Our Workers Compensation Lawyers for Help
It’s challenging for everyday people to understand the law surrounding occupational diseases and navigate the workers’ compensation process. Our experienced Florida workers’ compensation lawyers at Work Injury Rights can help you. Contact us today at 954-833-5226 for a free consultation.