New Jersey Workplace Exposure Attorney
Occupational Exposure, Illnesses & Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation is insurance offered by employers to financially care for employees who have been injured or become ill. These occupational injuries and illnesses must have originated as a direct result of work-related activities.
Occupational diseases are compensable just like injuries are; however, it can be more difficult to prove their origin. Often, they arise from “invisible” dangers in the workplace, such as exposure to toxic substances, carcinogens, and certain illnesses or viruses. Occupational disease may also be caused by repetitive work movements, demanding labor and extreme volume, or noisy work environments. If not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, occupational illnesses can pose life-threatening risks.
Levinson Axelrod, P.A. Can Help
Levinson Axelrod is led by New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Civil Trial and Workers’ Compensation Specialists (a certification held by less than 3% of attorneys) who leverage their expertise to help clients pursue needed compensation– whether through the workers’ comp system, or civil lawsuits filed against negligent third parties. Our team has:
- Been serving New Jersey since 1939;
- Helped thousands of victims, workers, and families;
- Recovered over $1 billion in compensation for clients;
- 9 office locations across the state;
Have questions about workplace exposure and an occupational illness? Call or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.
What Occupational Diseases Qualify for Workers Compensation in New Jersey?
Each state has its own workers compensation board that dictates which types of illnesses qualify for workers’ compensation. In New Jersey, that is the Division of Workers’ Compensation within the State of New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
While some states list out each qualifying occupational disease in detail, New Jersey simply states that any occupational disease (or injury) must satisfy these standards:
- The illness must have arisen out of employment
- The illness must have occurred during the course of employment
- The claimant must prove that the illness was produced by causes particular to their specific trade, occupation, or place of employment
- The claimant must show that their work activities contributed to a substantial degree to their illness
Examples of Workplace Exposure / Occupational Diseases
Occupational exposure cases can vary widely depending on the type and nature of work, and the hazards to which workers are exposed. Some examples include:
- Cancer (i.e. lung, skin, kidney, etc.)
- Lung and respiratory disease
- Occupational asthma
- Heart disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Mesothelioma / asbestos-related conditions (i.e. asbestosis)
- Hearing loss / occupational noise exposure
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Viral infections / infectious disease
The International Labour Organization (ILO) has a list of occupational diseases that goes into great detail regarding type and cause, such as:
- Diseases caused by chemical agents, broken down by chemical type (pesticides, ammonia, lead, benzene, etc.)
- Diseases caused by physical agents, broken down by agent type (noise, vibration, radiation, exposure to extreme temperatures, etc.)
- Diseases caused by biological agents and parasites such as hepatitis or tetanus
- Diseases resulting in respiratory illness, such as bronchopulmonary disease and asthma
- Skin diseases
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Mental and behavioral disorders
- Occupational cancers
Proving the Origin of Occupational Disease
In workers’ compensation claims, claimants must prove their work was a substantial contributing factor in causing their illness. An example would include a construction worker diagnosed with mesothelioma after working for years with materials containing asbestos, or a coal worker who develops pneumoconiosis from inhaling contaminants.
Overcoming this hurdle requires extensive preparation. At Levinson Axelrod, our team works collaboratively to conduct investigations, ensure clients receive independent medical evaluations, and consult with relevant experts. We also work meticulously to gather and preserve evidence and documentation needed to support claims.
Will New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Cover Exposure to Viruses?
In light of the novel coronavirus pandemic, there have been many questions about whether workers’ compensation may cover workers who contract COVID-19 in the course of performing their jobs. The answer, as with any other legal matter, will depend on the unique facts involved.
Though a personalized case evaluation with an attorney can help determine whether you may have a valid COVID-19 claim, there are some important considerations. This includes:
- The Canzanella Bill: The Canzanella Bill, which Partner Richard J. Marcolus helped pass in 2019, protects First Responders who suffer from diseases acquired as the result of exposure to toxins, carcinogens, and other health hazards. This would include COVID-19. What’s more, the law contains a legal presumption that exposure and diseases experienced by first responders are work related, making them eligible for benefits. Partner Marcolus is currently lobbying for legislation that would expand the definition of “first responders” to include other front line workers who provide essential services during the pandemic, and contract COVID-19 as a result.
- Proving Work Exposure: Though the Canzanella Bill applies only to first responders, workers who work in high-risk industries or who are exposed to the coronavirus while performing work-related duties may still have the ability to obtain benefits if they can prove they contracted COVID-19 through their jobs. Physicians, nurses, home health aides, test-site workers, and others who contract the disease can work with our attorneys to explore their options.
Laws regarding workers’ compensation and COVID-19 are evolving, and our legal team at Levinson Axelrod is on the forefront of backing legislation to protect workers who contract COVID-19 at work. We are available to review potential claims from those who have questions about the coronavirus, NJ workers’ compensation, and their rights.
What Benefits Can I Recover?
Workers with occupational illnesses can obtain benefits for:
- Medical expenses for reasonable and necessary treatment;
- Temporary disability benefits when they are out of work;
- Compensation upon a finding of the nature and extent of a permanent illness.
Though workers’ compensation is the most common source of benefits for those who suffer work-related illnesses or injuries, there may be options to pursue civil lawsuits against a third party.
Known as third-party claims, these civil lawsuits are separate from any workers’ compensation case, and are filed against a party (who is not the worker’s employer) alleged to have negligently caused the worker’s harm. Third-party claims can arise in many different situations. Examples include:
- Cancer caused by a pesticide found to contain carcinogens.
- Exposure to harmful substances contained in defective or unsafe products; and
- Exposure to toxins or other hazards on property owned by a third party (premises liability).
Do You Have a Claim? Trust Proven NJ Workplace Exposure Attorneys.
In order to qualify for workers' compensation, you must prove that work-related tasks substantially contributed to an illness, and navigate what can be an unfamiliar and inflexible process.
At Levinson Axelrod, our workers' compensation attorneys have a proven record fighting for workers and their families; in the last five years, we have helped our clients recover over $350 million in verdicts and settlements.
Learn more about your rights and options, and how we may be able to help you, by calling or contacting us online for a FREE and confidential consultation.