Seeking workers’ compensation for occupational diseases in New Jersey

Contextual

New Jersey workers may receive workers’ compensation benefits for repetitive stress injuries and occupational diseases if they meet specific criteria.

Many workers in are regularly exposed to unique hazards or strains in the course of their jobs. Repetitive motions, toxic substances and strenuous working environments can all gradually take a toll on the health of workers. Sadly, long-term exposure can cause injuries or illnesses that require intensive care or limit a person's ability to work. Fortunately, victims of the following occupational injuries and diseases may qualify to receive workers' compensation benefits in New Jersey.

Musculoskeletal disorders

Repetitive stress injuries, which often take the form of musculoskeletal disorders, are a common type of occupational injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, sprains, tears, hernias and strains are all examples of these disorders.

These disorders may be considered occupational diseases if they arise in the course of an employee's regular work. These disorders additionally must develop due to activities or demands that are unique to the person's job. For instance, assembly line workers may face a heightened risk of carpal tunnel syndrome due to the repetitive motions that they perform. Musculoskeletal disorders that occur naturally as the body ages are not eligible for compensation.

If a worker's job aggravates a pre-existing musculoskeletal condition, the worker may still be able to receive workers' compensation benefits. However, the worker must show that the job, rather than other factors, exacerbated the condition.

Occupational diseases

Other occupational diseases can result from exposure to chemicals or strenuous working conditions. For example, workers may develop asthma, asbestosis or lung cancer after working with irritants or toxins. Conditions such as hearing loss due to noisy working conditions may also be considered occupational diseases. Additionally, cardiovascular and cerebral vascular health conditions that arise due to on-the-job strains and stresses may qualify as occupational diseases.

Workers seeking compensation for these occupational diseases must meet essentially the same criteria as workers with repetitive stress injuries. They must show that specific job duties or the general work environment contributed significantly to the development of the disease. This may be challenging for workers with conditions such as asthma or hearing loss, which may also develop due to various everyday factors.

Timing concerns

In New Jersey, workers typically must file claims for work-related injuries within two years of the date that the injury occurred. Alternately, workers may make formal claims within two years of the last date that they received payment from the employer. After this point, workers usually lose the right to seek compensation.

Some occupational diseases, however, may not manifest until months or years after the date of exposure. Therefore, in these cases, workers have longer deadlines to file claims. Workers must file claims within two years of the date that they realized or should have known that the disease was work-related.

When injuries are slow to develop or when the connection to work isn't immediately clear, these deadlines can leave workers little time to file claims. Consequently, workers who believe they have developed occupational injuries or diseases should consider promptly meeting with a workers' compensation attorney to better understand their rights and options.

Keywords: workers' compensation, accident, injury, job