Workers’ compensation may be more commonly associated with injuries, such as broken bones or joint damage sustained by workers performing manual labor. However, workers’ compensation in Illinois covers a broad range of not only injuries, but also illnesses. Specifically, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation & Occupational Diseases Act entitles workers who incur workplace injuries or illnesses to benefits. The following list highlights four among other work-related illnesses that may warrant workers’ compensation benefits:
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Asbestosis is a noncancerous condition that develops in response to exposure to asbestos. This illness is specifically covered in Section 6 of the Act. This section mentions “injuries caused by exposure to asbestos” among other illnesses that warrant extended notice and filing deadlines. Asbestosis occurs when asbestos fibers enter and tear away at the lungs, which results in potentially suffocating scar tissue.
Fibromyalgia is a syndrome, consisting of symptoms including tender joints, severe fatigue, widespread pain and emotional volatility. In some cases, this illness can result in effectively disabled workers. If claimants and their representatives can prove that fibromyalgia originated or was aggravated out of and in the course of employment, then workers’ compensation may be available in Illinois.
Cancers that develop through employment may be eligible for workers’ compensation in Illinois. However, a number of challenges are associated with this specific illness. For example, the cancer may not manifest itself for a long period of time after its origin. Also, the relationship between the workplace and the cancer may not be clear. For this reason, the burden of proof for certain workers, such as paramedics and EMTs, shifts for some cancers.
HIV is an acronym for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This illness is founded in a virus, such as the flu, but with far more serious consequences. HIV remains in the body and destroys important cells that fight disease and infection. Health care workers are among those at risk of exposure or infection. These workers would be eligible for workers’ compensation in Illinois.
Developing an illness out of and in the course of employment can be a challenging experience. The potentially long-term consequences of these occupational illnesses can make securing adequate workers’ compensation critical. The process of filing claims for these benefits features deadlines and other nuances. Additionally, claimants may experience strong resistance from employers and insurers who are not interested in paying claims. Finally, establishing the relationship between the workplace and the illness can be complicated. For these reasons, workers who have developed workplace illnesses may wish to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney.