It is no surprise that some occupations carry more health and safety risks compared to other industries. But when you are diagnosed with an occupational illness in Pennsylvania, you may wonder what legal rights you have, if any.
At Kalinoski Law Offices, we work with employees across the Keystone State who have claims against their employers for workplace illness and injury. If you have mounting medical debts, let us help you seek the compensation you deserve.
Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act
Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, “Employees receive medical treatment and are compensated for lost wages associated with work-related injuries and disease, and employers provide for the cost of such coverage while being protected from direct lawsuits by employees.”
In addition, workers’ compensation coverage is mandatory for most Pennsylvania employers. Failure to obtain workers’ compensation coverage can leave employers subject to lawsuits by employees and to criminal prosecution by the State.
Those exempt from workers’ compensation coverage include:
- Industries covered under other workers’ compensation acts (Ie. railroad workers, longshoremen, and federal employees)
- Domestic servants (coverage is optional)
- Agricultural workers who work fewer than 30 days or earn less than $1,200 in a calendar year from one employer
- Employees who have requested and were granted an exemption due to religious beliefs or their executive status in certain corporations
For those covered under the state act, coverage begins the first day on the job and extends through the length of employment.
Common Pennsylvania Occupational Illnesses
Unlike work-related injuries which likely happen quickly during an isolated incident, occupational illness can be gradual and result from extended exposure to toxins. Common industries with increased risks of occupational illness include construction, health care, and factory workers.
Under the Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act, the following occupational illnesses are eligible for compensation.
- Toxic Chemical Poisoning: arsenic, lead, mercury, manganese, or beryllium; phosphorus; methanol, carbon bisulphide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon distillates (naphthas and others), or halogenated hydrocarbons; and benzol, or by nitro, amido, or amino derivatives of benzol (dinitro-benzol, anilin, and others)
- Asbestosis and Mesothelioma
- Lung Diseases: including Caisson disease
- Hepatitis, Tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases
- Radium Poisoning
- Silicosis, Anthraco-Silicosis, or coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (AKA Miner’s Asthma)
- “All other occupational diseases to which the claimant is exposed by reason of his employment, and which are peculiar to the industry or occupation, and which are not common to the general population.”
Reporting Requirements for Occupational Illnesses
Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, workers have 120 days to report their injury to their employer, and workers’ compensation claims must be filed within three years of the injury.
For occupational illness claims, the worker’s disability/illness must have occurred within 300 weeks of his or her last exposure to the hazardous workplace substance. If an occupational illness does not cause disability or death until after the 300-week timeframe, the worker will most likely be ineligible for receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
But that does not mean you should avoid filing. These cases are complex and can result in illnesses that may have lead to disability. Do not handle these claims alone. Remember, you have the opportunity to appeal the decision if you are denied for up to three years from the denial.
Occupational Illness Representation in Scranton, PA: Kalinoski Law Offices P.C.
Attorney Craig P. Kalinoski of Kalinoski Law Offices P.C. in Scranton handles cases dealing with an occupational illness, unpaid medical bills, reduced or denied compensation benefits, and hearing loss, permanent physical scars, or other disfigurements as a result of an injury.
If you live in Pennsylvania and have been injured at work or have developed a debilitating illness because of your job, don’t wait — inform your employer of your illness as soon as possible, and contact our office in downtown Scranton to ensure that you receive the compensation you’re entitled to.