I did not suffer a specific injury on a specific day, or an “accident” on my job, but my doctor tells me that my injuries came about as a result of years of wear and tear from working on my job. Do I have any means of recovery under the North Carolina Worker’s Compensation Act?
Depending on your specific injury, your past work and medical history, and what your treating doctor says, the answer could very well be yes. N.C.G.S. 97-53 provides a list of various diseases and conditions which are compensable as occupational diseases under the Worker’s Compensation Act.
Most of these various diseases involve exposure to specific substances in the workplace, such as arsenic, zinc, manganese, lead, and mercury; however, NCGS 97-53 (13) states that occupational disease also includes any disease which is “proven to be due to causes and conditions which are characteristic of and peculiar to a particular trade, occupation, or employment, but excluding all ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is equally exposed outside of employment.”
In plain terms, what this means is that if your doctor can state that there is something particular about your job, such as a specific type of repetitive motion, that caused your condition, and your job placed you at increased risk for the injury, you will likely have a compensable occupational disease claim. If, on the other hand, the doctor states that you were merely suffering from an ordinary disease of life, meaning something to which the general public is equally exposed, then you will not likely prevail on your occupational disease claim.
This type of claim often comes up with respect to carpal tunnel syndrome for individuals working as an electrician, typist, construction worker, etc., and the doctor is able to give an opinion that connects the repetitive motion of the wrist or arm required for the job to the diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome.
In addition to carpal tunnel syndrome, occupational diseases have been found to be compensable in cases of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), side effects of a vaccine, and even job stress to name a few.
The most important thing in such claims is to make sure that the treating doctor and your attorney have a very thorough history of the precise duties in your job which you believe may have caused your occupational disease, as well as your entire work history and medical history throughout your life. That is important because it is crucial for your attorney, and your doctor to rule out other potential causes of your occupational disease outside of your job.
If you think you may have suffered an occupational disease or an injury on the job, please do not hesitate to contact Joe Miller at 1-888-694-1671.