Obtaining Workers’ Compensation Benefits For Work-Related Respiratory Illnesses
Our respiratory systems are one of the most important parts of our bodies, but can also be one of the most vulnerable. Workers in many different environments and occupations can come into contact with a wide range of substances and materials that cause respiratory injuries and lung problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control, even after over 50 years of efforts to prevent work-related respiratory disease and improve workers’ respiratory health, respiratory disease is still a leading cause of illness and death, and work exposures, including new and emerging ones, are significant contributors.
What Are Work-Related Respiratory Illnesses?
There are a number of respiratory conditions that may arise from exposure to workplace risks. The type and severity of a worker’s illness usually depends on factors such as the type of work being performed and the type of substance that was inhaled. Everything from exposure to dust, vapors, fumes, and other toxic materials can cause respiratory illnesses. These illnesses include:
- Lung cancer
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
How Does Workers’ Compensation Work?
Generally speaking, workers have a right to be protected from toxic chemicals and other workplace risks that can cause respiratory illness. When this fails and workers are injured, workers may receive various benefits for work-related injuries and illnesses, including compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. Here in Florida, workers’ compensation is a no-fault based system and workers are generally entitled to benefits regardless of who caused their accident. Death benefits are also available for survivors of deceased workers.
Is Obtaining Benefits For a Respiratory Straightforward?
In many cases, no. As there are many factors that can contribute to a respiratory illness and, additionally, because they may onset many years after exposure, proving this kind of claim can be difficult as illustrated by a recent appellate decision. In Blanco v. Creative Management Services LLC, a Florida appellate court upheld a judge’s finding that a worker with a long history of heavy smoking was not entitled to benefits for a respiratory condition that he blamed on his 11 days of industrial exposure to concrete dust. The worker in that case had smoked cigarettes for 17 years before he started working for Creative Management Services LLC. He smoked somewhere between half pack to three packs per day. Ultimately, the court relied on an expert medical opinion in finding that the worker’s history of smoking cigarettes, not his employment, caused his respiratory condition.
Have You or a Loved One Been Injured?
If you believe that your lung disease or respiratory injury was caused or aggravated by your employment, you should contact an experienced legal team as soon as possible. As the Miami workers’ compensation attorneys at Payer & Associates, we understand that living with a respiratory condition can make it difficult to engage in everyday activities and often comes with expensive and ongoing medical care. We offer the help you need to help you prove your claim and obtain the benefits that you deserve. Begin by reaching out for help today.