Workers’ compensation is designed to cover occupational diseases, whether they are chemically induced or triggered by one’s job over the course of time. The difficulty in dealing with these occupational exposures as they relates to workers’ compensation claims and benefits is inherently in the diseases themselves. In most cases, the disease conditions do not develop until years later.
Such occupational diseases include, but are not limited to, the following. The information below also includes the time it may take to develop these diseases, according to this article from The Center for Public Integrity:
“Mesothelioma, a cancer triggered by asbestos: Typically 30 years or more
“Bladder cancer, associated with coal tar, metalworking fluids and other workplace hazards: Typically 15 to 40 years
“Lung cancer, linked to chromium, nickel, asbestos and other workplace hazards: Typically 10 to 30 years
“Asbestosis, an asbestos-caused scarring of the lungs: Typically 10 to 20 years
“Silicosis, a lung disease triggered by silica dust: Typically 10 years or more
“Parkinson’s syndrome, associated with pesticides, trichloroethylene, manganese and other workplace hazards: Unclear latency period, but while it can come on quickly, the lag time is likely more than a decade; average age of onset is 60”
Others: “… Trichloroethylene is a known human carcinogen; methylene chloride is considered a likely cancer-causing agent. Trichloroethylene in particular is associated with a variety of ailments — Parkinson’s, liver and other cancers, neurological problems and kidney damage among them.”
Workers have to suspect they were exposed to such things at work and ultimately need to demonstrate the exposure they encountered and have medical evidence supporting the relationship between the exposure and the disease they suffer from. Usually, one must show the work exposure was more likely than not to blame as opposed to all possible outside causes.
However, workers face deadlines to filing a claim for occupational diseases based on the amount of time elapsed since the last exposure to the hazard. Nebraska typically favors that such deadlines don’t begin to run until workers know or should have known that they have an occupational disease that is related to an exposure where they worked. This is typically known as a latent and progressive claim.
Unfortunately, Iowa is not one of the states favorable to exposed workers, according to The Center for Public Integrity article.
“If workers there do not become disabled or die within one year of the last ‘injurious’ exposure, or three years if the hazard causes one of the lung diseases categorized as pneumoconiosis, they’re out of luck.” There are some rare exceptions involving “radiation, in which case workers are allowed to actually find out that they have a disabling occupational illness before the clock starts ticking.
“Paul J. McAndrew Jr., an Iowa lawyer who has represented employees in workers’ compensation cases for 25 years, called the state’s deadline rule ‘a patent injustice’ that requires him to tell very sick people that they have no legal remedy against their former employer.”
If you or a loved one believe or are suspected to be suffering from an occupational exposure disease, please contact an experienced attorney.