Occupational Diseases and Georgia Work Comp Laws

When an accident happens at work, and you suffer an injury, you know you’re entitled to workers’ compensation. However, the story is a little different for work-related illnesses. This is because most people are unaware that diseases caused by a condition at work are compensable. Those who know may have their claim denied on the ground that their illness does not qualify as an occupational disease.

In this article, our Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers look at what qualifies as an occupational disease under Georgia work comp laws. If you suffer a work-related injury or illness, our attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve. So, call us today.

What Is an Occupational Disease? 

Not all work-related injuries are instant and appear immediately; some take time to manifest. The law refers to them as occupational diseases. In Georgia, occupational disease is a condition that develops as a result of prolonged exposure to a harmful substance or situation in the workplace.

Occupational diseases are compensable under Georgia laws. Therefore, those who file work comp for a work-related illness are eligible to get the same benefits as those whose accident caused their injury. However, unlike injuries like broken bones, claiming work comp for occupational diseases is more complicated. This is why we always advise workers to work with a workers’ compensation lawyer in Atlanta when pursuing a claim.

What Are the Types of Occupational Diseases in Georgia? 

Under Georgia law, there are two broad classifications for workplace illnesses. They are;

Diseases by Environmental Exposure 

Some workplace illnesses result from prolonged exposure to chemicals and irritants. This is common in the manufacturing industry. Examples of diseases caused by environmental exposure include:

  • Radiation illness
  • Lead poisoning
  • Mesothelioma/lung disease
  • Industrial asthma
  • Bloodborne disease
  • Industrial dermatitis
  • Chemical poisoning
  • Neurological disorders

Diseases by Physical Stress

An occupational illness is not always the result of exposure to harmful substances. It could be from repetitive actions or ongoing physical stress on your body. Examples of such diseases are:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tennis elbow (tendinitis)
  • Temporary or permanent muscle, nerve, ligament, or tendon damage

There are some industries where employees are more prone to develop occupational diseases. Aside from the one mentioned above, mining, construction, welding, agriculture, aerospace, and the food industry also record high cases of work-related illnesses. In addition, those exposed to fumes, dust, fibers, noise, and other hazardous elements are more likely to contract an occupational disease.

What Occupational Diseases Are Compensable Under Georgia Law? 

While the diseases mentioned above are recognized as work-related illnesses, there are times when they might not be compensable. The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation has guidelines an illness must meet to be compensable. So, for you to get benefits for a work-related disease, you must prove that:

  • There were specific hazards related to your employment that caused the illness
  • The disease or injury is the natural consequence of exposure to elements in your workplace
  • The disease resulted from exposure to occupational hazards and not by something outside the work environment
  • The disease is specific to elements within your work environment and is not common absent those factors
  • The origin of the illness is related to a risk factor connected with your employment
  • The condition developed during your employment
  • The occupational disease or injury is included in the Occupational Injury and Illnesses Classification System (OIICS)

What Should You Do After Developing an Occupational Disease? 

Immediately you get diagnosed with an occupational illness, you must report it to your employer or supervisor. You have 30 days to make the report, and failure to do so may lead to the denial of your workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, after informing your employer, they are obligated to file the compensation claim with their insurance carrier.

In addition, the employer will inform you of the work comp program and provide you with a list of physicians to pick from. The list usually contains about six names. If you see a physician outside the list, it might result in your claim getting denied. However, you can visit your employer’s recommended doctor and seek a second opinion from your primary care physician (PCP).

Contact Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in Atlanta, Today!

You should contact an Atlanta work comp attorney before or after you file a work comp claim for occupational diseases with your employer. The lawyer will help you prove that a work condition led to your illness and get you maximum compensation. At Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Atlanta, our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to do the preceding. As a result, we have recovered compensation for several Atlanta employees and will do the same for you. So, call today for a free case evaluation.