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Navigating the Complexities of Occupational Disease Claims in Washington

May 01, 2023

Navigating the Complexities of Occupational Disease Claims in Washington

If you are an employee who has suffered from an occupational disease, you may be entitled to compensation under Washington State’s workers’ compensation system. However, navigating the complexities of occupational disease claims can be difficult, and it is important to understand the claim process in order to ensure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to. 

What Is An Occupational Disease?

Occupational diseases are diseases or medical conditions that are caused by exposure to a hazard or condition in the workplace. This can include exposure to chemicals, dust, noise, radiation, or repetitive motions, among other things. Mesothelioma (caused by exposure to asbestos), black lung disease (caused by exposure to coal dust), repetitive strain injuries (caused by repetitive motion), and hearing loss are typical examples of occupational diseases. Occupational diseases can take years to develop, however, and the symptoms may not appear until long after the exposure has ended.

What Are The Requirements For Filing An Occupational Disease Claim? 

1. First, you must be an employee who has been exposed to a hazard or condition in the workplace that is likely to cause an occupational disease. 

2. The second requirement is that the hazard or condition at your workplace must directly contribute to your medical condition.

3. Lastly, you must file your claim within a certain time frame, which varies depending on the nature of your claim.

How Do You File An Occupational Disease Claim?

Filing an occupational disease claim can be a complicated process that can take several months, and it is important to follow the correct procedures to ensure that your claim is accepted. 

1. First, you must notify your employer of your illness or injury within 90 days of the date you knew or should have known that your condition was related to your work. 

2. Second, you must file a claim with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) within one year of the date you knew or should have known that your condition was work-related.

3. Once you have filed your claim, L&I will investigate to determine whether your condition is work-related and whether you are eligible for compensation. 

What benefits are available for occupational disease claims?

If your occupational disease claim is accepted, you may be entitled to several types of benefits. These can include:

1. Medical treatment: L&I will pay for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to your occupational disease.

2. Time-loss compensation: If your occupational disease prevents you from working, you may be entitled to time-loss compensation, which is a portion of your wages.

3. Vocational rehabilitation: If you are unable to return to your previous job due to your occupational disease, L&I may provide vocational rehabilitation services to help you find new employment.

Denied Claims: What to Do if Your Claim is Rejected

Unfortunately, not all occupational disease claims are accepted. If you’re dealing with denied claims, you have the right to appeal the decision. This can be a complex process, and it is essential to have an experienced attorney on your side who can help you navigate the appeals process.

Third-Party Claims: Pursuing Additional Compensation

In some cases, you may be able to pursue compensation for your occupational disease through a third-party claim. For example, if you were exposed to a toxic substance that was manufactured by a third-party, you may be able to pursue a claim against the manufacturer. This can be a complicated process, but an experienced attorney can help you determine whether a third-party claim is appropriate in your case.

Personal Injury Claims: Seeking Compensation Beyond Workers’ Compensation

If your occupational disease was caused by the negligence of a third-party, you may be able to pursue a personal injury claim in addition to your workers’ compensation claim. Personal injury claims allow you to seek additional compensation for damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of quality of life. An experienced attorney can help you determine whether a personal injury claim is appropriate in your case.

Navigating the Workers’ Compensation Process

Navigating the workers’ compensation process can be complicated, especially when it comes to occupational disease claims. To be eligible for benefits, you must show proof that the conditions at work caused your disease. This can be challenging, as it involves proving that your exposure to hazardous substances or conditions in the workplace was the sole cause of your illness. You must provide documentation to support your claim, such as medical records, witness statements, and employment records.

Contact Smith Duran Law Today For a Consultation About Your Workplace Injury Claim

At Smith Duran Law, our experienced attorneys have helped countless clients in Washington get the compensation they deserve after suffering from occupational diseases or workplace injuries. We understand how stressful and overwhelming it can be to deal with the physical, emotional, and financial impact of these conditions. That’s why we’re here to help you through every step of the legal process.

Our attorneys are knowledgeable about the latest laws and regulations related to occupational diseases and workplace injuries, including the Washington State Workers’ Compensation Act. We’ll work tirelessly to gather the evidence needed to prove your case and fight for the compensation you’re entitled to, whether that means negotiating with insurance companies or representing you in court.

At Smith Duran Law, we understand that no two cases are alike. That’s why we take the time to listen to our clients and develop customized legal strategies to meet their unique needs. Whether you’ve suffered from mesothelioma, black lung disease, repetitive strain injuries, or any other occupational disease or workplace injury, we’re here to help. We believe that everyone deserves access to quality legal representation, regardless of their financial situation. That’s why we offer a free consultation to all potential clients. We’ll review your case, answer your questions, and provide you with a clear understanding of your legal options.

If you’re dealing with an occupational disease or workplace injury, don’t wait any longer to seek the compensation you deserve. Contact us today, and let us put our experience and expertise to work for you.

  • Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

    The Department of Labor and Industries manages claims for injuries at work. You are entitled to money for lost wages, medical treatment, vocational retraining, loss of body function, and in some cases a pension.

  • Personal Injury Attorney

    If your injury was caused by someone other than a co‑worker, an auto accident, or defective equipment, you may be entitled to additional compensation. Our personal injury attorney in Tacoma will evaluate your case.

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