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Workers can be compensated for illnesses contracted on the job

When we think of workers' comp, we tend to think of accidents and injuries, such as a broken leg, a concussion, severe burns.

It also encompasses injuries acquired over extended periods of time, such as hernias, from overexertion; carpal tunnel syndrome, which many cashiers and date input workers suffer from; and deafness caused by factory noise.

Covered illnesses

But workers compensation in New York also addresses illnesses workers contract while working.

These are just some of the illnesses the program compensates workers for:

  • Heart disease, heart failure, coronary thrombosis, hypertension and stroke
  • Exposure-caused diseases such as cancer and asbestosis
  • Asthma triggered by job environment
  • Respiratory disease such as COPD and mesothelioma
  • Dermatological conditions caused by irritants in the workplace
  • Obesity, when work leads to serious weight issues
  • Diabetes and other endocrinological conditions
  • Gastrointestinal disorders, peptic ulcers,
  • Headaches, including migraines
  • Stress disorders, including depression, high anxiety and suicidality

It must be pointed out that workplace illness claims are not a "slam dunk," the way a broken leg is. Sick workers have a steep challenge showing that the conditions they suffer from are caused mostly by the work they do, and the environment in which they do it.

A heart attack, for example, may be brought on by overexertion, overwork, long hours, heavy lifting, and insufficient time to rest on the job. But this must be made clear in your claim.

Proving the cause

The burden is upon the individual, then, to prove that a causal connection exists between the illness that affects them and workplace conditions. Some of the conditions cited above are compensated occasionally but not often.

Obviously, this is easier to prove when you work with a workers' comp lawyer familiar with the complexities of proving the cause of an ongoing condition, and with existing case law from situations across New York State.

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