Can You File Workmans Compensation Because of Cancer?

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Workers whose illness is caused by working conditions may have a workers' compensation claim.
Workers whose illness is caused by working conditions may have a workers' compensation claim. (Image: Liquidlibrary/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Workers' compensation is an insurance program designed to provide benefits for employees injured on the job. Injuries can vary from a box falling on an employee's head to a disease developing over time due to an occupational exposure. If the employee's work environment caused the cancer, it is a workers' compensation claim.

Lung Cancer

The federal workers' compensation program recognizes that some occupations lead to dangerous exposures resulting in cancer. Coal mining is one of these occupations. They have developed the Federal Black Lung Program to assist coal miners in getting their workers' compensation accepted faster and easier. The goal is to provide employees with paid medical care as soon as possible in order to prolong life expectancy. The program also provides benefits to surviving families.

Skin Cancer

Certain occupations require employees to spend many hours outside. These occupations include construction workers, agricultural workers, utility workers, road workers and postal workers. The amount of time spent outside can expose these employees to skin cancer. If a job requires an employee to spend numerous hours outside in the sun, this can prove the causal relationship between the development of the skin cancer and employment. Luckily, this is a treatable condition and medical benefits would be provided under the claim.

Cancer in Manufacturing

Manufacturing work potentially exposes employees to large amounts of carcinogens. These carcinogens can lead to cancer. Researchers estimate that about 4 percent of cancer deaths in the United States are caused by occupational exposure. Occupational exposures are valid workers' compensation claims. Medical evidence that shows a causal relationship between the cancer and the workplace exposure will be used in filing the claim. It can take 15 to 40 years before the cancer develops.

Presumption

California law presumes that firefighters who have cancer contracted the disease while working. In order to have a valid workers' compensation claim, a firefighter must file the proper paperwork documenting that they have a primary site of cancer exposure and were exposed to carcinogens during their employment. This can be shown by stating the number of fires that were worked during the employee's lifetime and describing the smoke exposure.

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