Occupational Disease and Illness Lawyers
Because of the hard work we do in West Virginia, our jobs can sometimes damage our health to the point that we are no longer able to work. Unfortunately, workers’ compensation insurance companies routinely deny claims for occupational illnesses, regardless of how serious your health condition may be. If an occupational illness is caused by the deliberate intent of an employer or a party other than the employer, those responsible will also often spend vast resources to fight a personal injury claim.
At Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., our experienced occupational disease lawyers help injured and ill workers receive the disability benefits they are entitled to from workers’ compensation and other available sources. We routinely represent coal miners, oil and gas workers, timber cutters, power lineman, and those who work in other dangerous industries who suffer debilitating illnesses or injuries at work.
Since 1970, we have stood up for the working people of West Virginia, and we have a proven track record with even the most complex cases. We are not intimidated by large employers and their armies of high-priced attorneys, and we put our extensive experience who work to successfully thwart their tactics and secure the most favorable result possible on behalf of each client we serve.
Contact us for a free initial consultation at our Charleston, Logan or Summersville office. We also offer in-home consultations.
What Is an Occupational Disease?
An occupational disease is one that occurs as a result of exposure to dangerous chemicals or environmental conditions. This exposure may occur over a period of many years. Examples include:
- Lung diseases, such as black lung, silicosis and fibrosis, from working in coal mines and other hazardous settings
- Mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos in brake pads, boilers and other sources
- Hearing loss from exposure to explosions
- Histoplasmosis resulting from exposure to histoplasma capsulatum spores in bird and bat droppings
- Toxic encephalitis resulting from exposure to chemicals such as paint, paint thinners and solvents
- Cancer from exposure to chemicals such as benzene
- Reactive airway disease from exposure to diesel fuel or chemicals
- Carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive motions performed on the job
As your lawyers, we will thoroughly investigate the specific circumstances that resulted in your occupational illness and help you gather the evidence you need to prove that your work was a major contributory factor. Once we have all the facts and evidence, we will analyze your case and explore every potential legal avenue toward recovering full and fair compensation.
Who Do I Pursue Compensation from with an Occupational Disease Claim?
When you suffer an illness or injury on the job, there are several possible sources for recovering compensation. These may include:
The first place you will usually go for compensation from an occupational illness is to file a claim through your employer’s workers comp insurance. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that is set up to help take care of workers who have been injured or suffered an illness related to their job. Benefits available through workers’ comp include coverage for medical expenses related to your condition, two-thirds of gross wages, and coverage for a temporary or permanent disability.
To receive workers’ compensation benefits, you do not have to prove fault, you must only prove that your occupational disease is work-related. This is a lower threshold than what is required with a personal injury claim. That said, employers and their insurers frequently put up unnecessary roadblocks in an attempt to frustrate workers into giving up on receiving the benefits they are entitled to. And this is why it is very helpful to have an experienced legal advocate working on your behalf to get you those benefits.
A Faulty Product Manufacturer
There are many instances in which a product defect or faulty product contributes to a workplace injury or illness. Various types of machinery can be very dangerous, for example. In addition, some products have been known to cause workers to become exposed to toxic substances. If a product that is used in the workplace is a contributing factor in an occupational illness, it may be possible to bring a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, and other parties within the product’s distribution chain.
A Third Party
Sometimes, a party other than the employer is responsible for an occupational injury or illness. The best example of this is when subcontractors are brought in to perform various tasks, and they work near employees. When this is the case, a personal injury claim can be brought against the responsible party. And with a personal injury claim, the injured party can recover not only economic losses such as medical bills and lost earnings, but also non-economic losses such as pain and suffering, psychological distress, and diminished quality of life.
Generally, you are not allowed to sue your employer when you develop an occupational disease. There are some exceptions to this rule, however. First of all, if your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, you can bring a direct personal injury lawsuit against them. You may also be able to file a lawsuit against your employer if your illness was caused by their “deliberate intent”.
An example of deliberate intent would be becoming exposed to toxic chemicals because your employer forced you to work without proper safety equipment. Deliberate intent claims are very difficult to win, however, and this is another reason it is so important to work with an experienced legal team that has the proven ability to succeed with these types of cases.
Is it Too Late for Me to File an Occupational Illness Claim?
Occupational diseases typically take a long time to develop – sometimes many years or even decades. In fact, many workers do not discover their illness until they are retired. This brings up the frequent question of how long you have to file a claim when you develop an occupational disease. The good news is that, although there is a two-year statute of limitations for most personal injury claims in West Virginia, in the case of certain occupational illnesses (such as black lung disease and asbestos exposure), the statute of limitations begins when the disease is diagnosed.
Free Initial Consultation with Our Occupational Illness and Disease Attorneys
At Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., we are here to help you and your family recover the compensation you deserve when you are suffering from an occupational disease. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with our personal injury lawyers in Charleston, Logan or Summersville.
We work on a contingent fee basis. We do not get paid unless you do.