Occupational-related diseases are an all too common risk for Minnesota construction workers. If you sustained an occupational disease or injury on a construction site, it’s essential first to seek medical attention and then report it to your employer.
In Minnesota, workers who sustained an illness or disease due to their work environment are entitled to worker compensation benefits. However, to be covered by worker’s comp, you’ll need to submit a claim before the deadline.
The clock starts from the moment you’re injured or diagnosed with an illness. When filing occupational disease claims, working with an experienced worker’s compensation attorney can streamline the process. Here at Union Members law firm, we have over a decade of experience helping construction workers in Minnesota obtain the worker’s compensation benefits they deserve.
What Is An Occupational Disease?
Minnesota statute states that an occupational disease is classified as a mental impairment or physical disease arising out of an employee’s occupation. Simply put, occupational diseases are chronic illnesses resulting from repeated exposure to environmental factors. There are several occupational diseases you can develop due to exposure to:
- Dust, fumes, or gases
- Toxic chemical substances
- Constant physical pressure or repeated physical movements
- Traumatic events in the workplace or the line of work (that lead to PTSD)
A construction worker’s exposure to hazardous materials can result in work-related illnesses. Some of the most prominent occupational diseases that constructions workers have to deal with include:
- Respiratory ailments
- Neck, knee, and back injuries
- Cancers due to exposure to compounds such as asbestos
Worker’s Compensation Claims And Deadlines For Occupational Diseases
Workers’ compensation programs provide coverage for occupational diseases. Worker’s compensation is a no-fault insurance system that accounts for the rehabilitation of injured and sick workers. Workers’ compensation benefits are vital for injured or ill construction workers because these cover medical expenses, account for lost wages, and provide disability benefits. The families of workers who died from work-related causes are also able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.
Workers’ compensation claims in Minnesota are subject to specific deadlines. Occupational disease cases are limited by the statute of limitations, stipulating that the person may file a claim within three years of discovering the disease and determining it was work-related. Securing workers’ compensation for occupational illnesses can be difficult. Latency periods for many occupational diseases can make identifying causative factors more challenging.
If you were diagnosed with an occupational illness, it’s essential to let your employer know as soon as possible. An employee starts a workers’ compensation claim when they inform their employer of their work-related illness, and the employer will then need to apply for the worker’s compensation benefits. Claims filed after the three-year window may be denied. However, you can always appeal the decision.
Challenges Of Occupational Disease Claims
For workers’ compensation to be paid, you must prove that your condition is a consequence of your occupation, which can sometimes be challenging. However, in the construction industry, the medical link to chronic illnesses like lung disease due to long-term exposure to coal dust and asbestosis from asbestos exposure has long been established.
Yet you’ll still need to provide medical evidence when submitting a claim that your work conditions significantly contributed to the disease, which involves:
- Providing evidence that the chemical or the material is capable of causing the disease
- It is medically certain that the substance at issue was responsible for the disease or illness.
Claims for occupational illnesses are denied at a higher rate than those for injuries. It is possible to reject these claims for many reasons, including:
Inconsistent Medical Records – If for some reason, your medical records fail to align with your employer or your injury report, your worker’s compensation claim will be denied immediately.
Communication Problems – It is possible to deny claims due to communication problems. Caseworkers, doctors, insurers, and other parties must communicate effectively to ensure a successful claim.
Failing To Provide Persuasive Evidence – You can lose your worker’s compensation benefits if your evidence isn’t convincing enough if the case ends up in court. You may need to subpoena the testimony of medical providers and other experts in occupational diseases cases. Legal teams will perform an extensive investigation to produce compelling evidence for clients to support their claims.
Talk to Sundquist Law Firm
It’s important to remember that millions of people every year face this same struggle and you’re not in this alone.
With a survey estimating Minnesota having close to 73,000 OSHA-recorded non-fatal workplace injury or illnesses in 2019, it is important to know who is looking out for the working American.
Sundquist Law can help. We’re happy to help you fill out forms, prepare your evidence, and make your claim. If you have been injured on the job and need assistance getting your worker’s comp benefits, then contact Sundquist Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota — The Union Members Law Firm.