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O'Connell Law Firm, LLC Decatur Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
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Decatur Occupational Disease Lawyer

Help With Workers’ Compensation for Work-Related Illnesses in Decatur

A workplace disability is not always the result of a traumatic accident such as falling off a ladder, slipping on a spill, or getting hurt from a malfunctioning piece of machinery. Occupational illnesses can come on slowly and develop over time, but if you can prove they are work-related, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to treat the illness and replace lost wages when you can’t work. Learn more below about how Georgia workers’ compensation treats occupational disease, and contact the O’Connell Law Firm if you need help or have questions about your workers’ comp claim in Decatur.

Compensation for Occupational Disease in Decatur, Georgia

Georgia workers’ compensation laws can be found in Title 34, Chapter 9 of the Georgia Code. Article 8 of this chapter is devoted to compensation for occupational disease. The law makes it clear that occupational diseases are compensable, but what is less clear is what counts as an occupational disease. According to the law, an occupational disease is a disease that arises out of and in the course of employment, provided the employee can prove all of the following to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation:

  • A direct causal connection between the working conditions and the disease
  • The disease followed as a natural incident of exposure through employment
  • The disease is not something that the employee may have had substantial exposure to outside of work
  • The disease is not an ordinary disease of life to which the general public is exposed
  • The disease appeared to have its origin in a risk connected with employment and flowed from that source as a natural consequence

If these factors sound confusing to you or proving them seems daunting, you are not alone. Call our office to discuss the steps required to prove your occupational disease to the Georgia Board of Workers’ Compensation.

It’s important to know that this section of the law defining occupational disease specifically excludes partial loss of hearing due to noise. Other excluded conditions include psychiatric and psychological problems and heart and vascular disease, except where they arise from a separate occupational disease. Psychological injuries are not compensable in Georgia workers’ comp without an accompanying physical injury, which could include a physically debilitating occupational disease.

The disease must also in some way be specific to the type of job the employee performs. Occupational diseases are compensable only when they arose out of and in the course of employment, even if they developed slowly over time. The disease must have resulted from an employment hazard that is over and above the hazards of the disease related to employment in general.

Time Limits to File a Workers’ Comp Claim for Occupational Disease

Employees have a year from the date of an accident to report a work injury. In the case of an occupational disease, the law requires the employee to file a claim within one year of the date the employee knew or through reasonable diligence should have known of the disease and its relationship to the employee’s job.

Regardless of when the employee knew or should have known about the occupational disease, Georgia workers’ compensation law puts a hard seven-year limit on claims. A claim must be filed within one year of when the employee knew or should have known about the occupational disease, but not any later than seven years from the worker’s last exposure to the hazard.

Dependents bringing a claim for death benefits must file within one year of the date of death, assuming the employee’s claim was still viable given the time limits described above.

Asbestos or mesothelioma claims must be filed within one year from the diagnosis of the disease.

Other Issues Related to Occupational Disease in Georgia Workers’ Compensation

A few more things you might want to know about filing an occupational disease workers’ compensation claim in Decatur include:

  • Employees can get partial permanent disability for an occupational disease, except for the partial loss or loss of use of a member or partial loss of vision of an eye.
  • Where an occupational disease is aggravated by a non-compensable disease, or where a non-compensable injury is aggravated by an occupational disease, the employee’s compensation is limited to the proportion of compensation that would be payable if the occupational disease were the sole cause of the disability.
  • If the disease developed over time while the employee worked for more than one employer, generally speaking, the employee’s last employer is the one responsible for paying workers’ compensation benefits. This is one of the reasons that knowing the date of the disease’s onset can be so important to your claim. The date of diagnosis can be complex, and complying with the applicable notice rules can be complicated as well, so get in touch with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as you think you might have a claim. The O’Connell Law Firm in Decatur is at your service if you have any questions about your claim.

Help With Occupational Disease Workers’ Comp Claims in Decatur

If you have questions about your workers’ compensation claim, call the O’Connell Law Firm for answers. We help people throughout Decatur who have become disabled from working due to accidental injury or occupational disease and need help understanding their claim and getting the full value of benefits available to them.

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