While construction workers or machinists face injury hazards unique to their occupation, Florida nurses and patient care assistants face a higher risk of disease or illness due to their frequent exposure to the infirm.
When these illnesses progress or result in complications, they may cause you to miss work for a significant amount of time, lose wages, suffer reduced quality of life, or face something even more serious. In these cases, you may be able to pursue a workers’ compensation claim to recover some of the damages.
Does Workers’ Compensation include occupational illnesses and diseases?
Florida Workers’ Compensation law does include occupational illnesses and diseases as conditions for a valid claim. However, the law is very particular in defining which illnesses or diseases qualify, and it leaves some discretion up to insurance providers and other arbiters.
If you are unable to negotiate a dispute with your insurance provider after a good-faith effort, you may appeal to the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation, and if they are unable to resolve the dispute satisfactorily, you may even be able to take the case before a Workers’ Compensation Judge or in a court of appeals.
What does a disease or illness need to qualify?
Generally speaking, Florida requires that diseases eligible for workers’ compensation be directly related to the occupation or trade of the person who contracts the disease. This disease must meet a few requirements.
You must have contracted the disease during the regular exercise of your occupation or trade, and it must be a disease that medical science has demonstrated to be a direct result of exposure related to your occupation.
In other words, if you contract cancer after working with known carcinogenic substances for a significant period of time, you may be able to receive compensation. However, if you contract a common illness like the flu and experience complications, this may or may not qualify since there is a common flu risk among the general population. It may help in such a case to demonstrate that your risk was significantly higher in your occupation.
In some circumstances, you may even be able to receive compensation if you had a predisposition to the contracted disease or prior exposure to it, but this would depend on the degree to which each aggravated your medical condition.