The Definitive Guide on Occupational Diseases and Lawsuits
In terms of what can happen to you in the workplace, most people are familiar with injury law and the protections afforded them by the courts.
But, when we move beyond basic injuries and into diseases caused by the work you do, the legal field becomes far more complicated. From having to obtain detailed medical records to simply proving the disease was caused by the work you do, it can be an extremely tricky road to navigate alone.
We’ve compiled a general guide of occupational diseases to arm you with the information you need to move forward more confidently if you are pursuing damages related to an occupational disease. Yet, you’ll see it’s crucial to also have expert legal representation—if you are considering fighting for damages caused by an occupational disease, contact us immediately so we can get to work fighting for you .
What Are Occupational Diseases?
By definition, occupational diseases are ailments—whether long-term or short-term—that are caused by the function of one’s job at work. As such, ailments caused by activities outside of the workplace are not considered occupational diseases.
Yet, the best way to define occupational diseases is to use past examples, some of which have become landmark cases with massive settlements. One of the most well-known occupational diseases is pneumoconiosis, otherwise known as “Coal Miner’s Lung” or “Black Lung”.
Caused by extended exposure to coal dust, coal miners for years were not give proper protections against inhaling the often deadly compound. Causing fragility in the lungs and a higher susceptibility to pneumonia and other major ailments, it took years for coal miners to force employers to develop safer occupational practices and training programs to fight against black lung.
Occupational diseases can also be caused by factors not so obvious. Radiation poisoning is sometimes caused in nuclear power plants and other high-radiation scenarios where proper safety measures have not been adopted. In many cases, people suffering radiation poisoning will be entitled to settlements because the disease was caused by negligence at the workplace on the part of your employer.
Then there are residual diseases that can occur because of occupational negligence. For instance, someone who experiences extensive radiation poisoning could develop cancer over time, which makes both the radiation poisoning and the residual cancer occupational diseases.
Where it Gets Complicated
Often, companies will fight charges against them for occupational negligence. To settle these cases and correct the processes that led to occupational diseases in their workers, huge costs are incurred by the company.
Because of this reality, companies will often fight tooth-and-nail against you if you are pursuing a case regarding an occupational disease. In many ways, your pursuit of the case can lead others to look into their own health more closely, leading often to more settlements and more stringent penalties.
If you believe you are working in a workplace that has a high risk of causing occupational diseases—for instance, working with chemicals or materials that create high levels of particulates in the air—you will want to stay on top of your health profile.
This means always going for annual check-ups, to ensure your health is on record. In occupational disease cases, medical records serve as some of the most important proof that your disease was caused by factors in the workplace.
Due diligence is also an important factor in occupational disease cases. If you have identified a particular circumstance that might be unsafe and did not report it, the company could use that information against you in a court of law. It would appear to a judge that you were setting the company up for a lawsuit, which in many ways will be detrimental to your case.
Perhaps most important of all is to ensure you have an experienced legal team behind you, especially if your cases could potentially become a larger class-action lawsuit. In many ways, these cases foster positive change in the workplace, and has been one of the main reasons working conditions have improved over the decades.
It’s crucial to understand that if you are suffering from an occupational disease that is caused by a company’s lack of safety measures and training, you are entitled to damages for the pain and suffering you’ve incurred. If you are thinking about bringing a case against your company for causing an occupational disease, give us a call today at (203) 597-6364 so we can start to fight for you.
Timothy C. Moynahan is the CEO and owner of Moynahan Partners, which offers business development consultancy, identifying strategic business partnerships and funding sources. He founded and heads the Moynahan Law Firm, Waterbury, Connecticut, and is “of counsel” to the Jin Law Group at 200 Park Avenue in New York. He is a sought-after and successful trial lawyer, earning the Super Lawyer of New England and Connecticut awards from 2009 to 2012 and Best Criminal Defense Attorney accolade in 2013.