Workers in British Columbia who are exposed to hazardous or toxic substances in their workplaces might nor even notice the gradual damage this exposure causes to their health. In many cases, by the time workers are diagnosed with occupational diseases, the condition is already severe. Although workers’ compensation covers work-related illnesses, they may be more difficult to prove for claims purposes than other workplace injuries.
For claims to be accepted, the illness must be a recognized occupational disease, meaning it must have a work-related cause. Also, the illness must have caused a disability that prevents the worker from earning a reasonable income (with certain exceptions). Full earning ability might prevent wage replacement benefits from being paid, but the worker might still be eligible for health care benefits.
Among others, examples of recognized occupational diseases that may be covered include various asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma, asbestosis, diffuse pleural thickening or fibrosis, lung cancer, gastro-intestinal cancer, cancer of the larynx or pharynx and benign pleural effusion. However, each claim is unique. Claims are typically handled on a case-by-case basis.
It is difficult to deal with workers’ compensation insurance claims at a time of illness or recovering from workplace injuries, but fortunately, help is available. A British Columbia lawyer with experience in dealing with all employment matters can assess the circumstances, and provide advice regarding how to obtain compensation to cover lost wages, medical expenses, rehabilitation support and an award for permanent disability if applicable.