When most people think about a work-related injury, they tend to think about injuries related to sudden accidents such as slip and falls or vehicle accidents. While these types of incidents can certainly result in serious injuries, some workplace injuries occur over the period of weeks or years in the form of occupational diseases.
In these cases, the 2-year statute of limitations that applies to workers’ compensation claims in New Jersey can be difficult to apply. For example, if you develop serious back problems as a result of your years of working in a warehouse, you may not have your condition diagnosed or recognize that it was related to your work for months or even years.
In cases involving occupational disease, there is not an exact date of an injury-causing accident that can be used to determine when the statute of limitations started to run. Instead, courts look to the date when the injured worker knew the “nature of the occupational disability and its relationship to employment,” a rule that has been the subject of much judicial interpretation.
In a 2010 case, Teague v. Palermo Brothers Masonry, a court considered whether an employee who started suffering from back pain while working in 2010 could file a claim after two years had passed. In that case, the court determined that the statute of limitations did not begin to run until the plaintiff was diagnosed with an occupational disease nearly two years after his work ended.
Occupational Illnesses Can Affect Nearly Anyone
While it is certainly true that certain jobs such as construction or logging expose individuals to a particularly high risk of injury, any type of employment has the potential to result in an occupational illness. For example, even an office worker who spends all day at a computer can develop carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful condition involving the wrist and hand. There are a number of occupational illnesses that can entitle victims to significant workers’ compensation benefits. These include the following:
|· Carpal tunnel syndrome
· Repetitive strain injuries
· Hearing loss
· Respiratory disease
· Occupational asthma
· Contact dermatitis
· Hand-arm vibration syndrome
It is important to always ask your doctor whether any illness or injury could be related to your work or your work environment. Failure to explore the possibility could result in significant uncompensated losses.
Call 201-498-9768 today for more information.
If you have developed an occupational disease as a result of your work or work environment, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney John Schettino today at 201-498-9768 or contact us online.