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Are Occupational Diseases Covered by Workers' Comp?


Workers’ compensation exists to insure employees against accidents and hazardous conditions. If the conditions of your job cause or contribute to an illness, coverage should be available. For an illness to qualify as an occupational disease, it must arise out of employment and occur during the course of employment. Unlike an accident, the cause of a work-related illness is not always clear. As a result, whoever files the worker’s comp claim must prove that their illness was caused by an event or exposure in the workplace. Even if your illness could have happened during the course of daily life, you can claim benefits if you prove with “clear and convincing evidence to a reasonable degree of medical certainty” that your illness developed because of work and while you were working. This might sound like a heavy burden, but having the right information and hiring the right lawyer can help you lift it!

What Types of Diseases or Illnesses Can Develop at Work?

Someone who works in a coal mine may develop black lung disease, or a healthcare employee may be inadvertently infected with HIV/AIDS. Exposure to toxic substances at factories may lead to cancer. The most common types of health conditions that qualify as occupational diseases are cardiovascular, contagious, cancerous, or respiratory in nature.

Other types of illnesses result from overuse. For example, an employee who works at a desk all day may develop carpal tunnel syndrome, or someone who lifts heavy boxes each day may acquire back pain. These are called repetitive strain or stress injuries, or RSIs, and should be covered under workers’ comp.

*Generally, pre-existing conditions are not covered under workers’ comp insurance. If you started a mining job with asthma, for instance, you are unlikely to be covered if your asthma worsens.

Taking Action

The Texas Medical Association and Texas Department of Insurance have state-specific information and resources to help you classify and pursue a worker’s comp claim. Because occupational diseases are so complex and have a high standard of proof, you may benefit from a free consultation from The Law Office of George P. Escobedo & Associates, PLLC. Our lawyer would be happy to chat with you at (210) 807-3178.

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