Filing for Workers’ Compensation If You Have Lung Disease

Filing for Workers’ Compensation If You Have Lung DiseaseWorkers in Delaware can file for workers’ compensation if they either have a work-related illness or they suffer a work-related accident. Call Silverman, McDonald & Friedman in Wilmington, Newark, and Seaford if you cannot work due to an occupational illness, and schedule your free consultation with a Delaware workers’ compensation lawyer today.

Some of the Delaware industries that lead to lung disease for workers including mining, manufacturing, construction, and agriculture. Sadly, many workers do not even learn they have lung disease due to their workplace conditions until the disease has developed into a serious condition. In many cases, workers with an occupational illness can never return to work.

Employees who develop any type of occupational illness should file for workers’ compensation as soon as possible so they can start getting the medical help they need. There are time limits for filing a Delaware workers’ compensation claim based on an occupational illness that our seasoned lawyers can explain.

What are common occupational illnesses that affect the lungs?

Many different types of lung diseases qualify for Delaware workers’ compensation benefits. According to the National Institutes of Health, lung diseases generally fall into one of the following categories:

  • Diseases of the airway. The airways transport oxygen and other chemicals out of and into the lungs. Lung diseases of the airway restrict the movement of these vital chemicals. Common lung airway diseases include:
  • Asthma is a medical condition that causes the airways to narrow and swell. This can make breathing hard. Asthma may trigger coughing and wheezing. In severe cases, asthma can prevent you from working and doing your daily activities. Asthma can be life-threatening. While there is no cure, the symptoms can often be controlled.
  • COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). COPD is a “chronic inflammatory lung disease” that restricts airflow from the lungs. Some of the symptoms are difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, and the production of mucus (sputum). COPD is usually caused by exposure (for a long time) to “irritating gases or particulate matter, most often from cigarette smoke.” People with COPD are also prone to lung cancer, heart disease, and other disorders, including:
    • Chronic bronchitis is “inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from the air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs.”
    • Emphysema is a condition in which “the alveoli at the end of the smallest air passages (bronchioles) of the lungs are destroyed as a result of damaging exposure to cigarette smoke and other irritating gases and particulate matter.
  • This lung disease “causes coughing up mucus due to scarred tissue in the bronchi, or the passages that let air into the lungs.”
  • Diseases of the lung tissue. Here, scarring of tissue inflammation prevents the lungs from fully expanding – which means the lungs cannot absorb the oxygen and chemicals they need. Common lung tissue diseases include:
    • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
    • Sarcoidosis.
  • Diseases due to lung circulation complications. Here, the blood vessels in the lungs are affected – which also affects the ability of the lungs to take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. A common type of lung circulation disease is pulmonary hypertension.

Other diseases that affect the lungs – and that may necessitate filing for workers’ compensation include:

  • Pneumoconiosis
  • Mesothelioma
  • Asbestosis
  • Silicosis
  • Byssinosis
  • Berylliosis

What if you have “black lung”? Can you get workers’ compensation?

Black Lung, formally known as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), is covered by the Federal Black Lung Program. It is only available to “coal miners who are totally disabled by pneumoconiosis arising out of coal mine employment, and to survivors of coal miners whose deaths are attributable to the disease.”

Because there are no coal mines in Delaware, and because there is a federal program for compensation, you cannot file a workers’ compensation claim for black lung. If, however, you live in Delaware and are a beneficiary of an out-of-state family member who died black lung, you can apply for compensation form the program. You can contact the offices here.

What are other types of occupational Illnesses?

Employees who file occupational illness cases often claim that they have one of the following medical disorders:

  • Cancer caused by exposure to carcinogens in the workplace
  • Certain blood diseases
  • Loss of hearing is common in the construction and manufacturing industries
  • Some skin diseases
  • Some types of brain damage
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Lead poisoning
  • Repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Certain skin diseases

How do you prove an occupational illness?

Employees must be able to show, with the help of skilled workers’ compensation lawyers, that:

  • They have an illness that prevents them from doing their job
  • The illness was due to workplace conditions
  • The illness was not caused by conditions away from the workplace

In many cases involving occupational illness, there are presumptions that if you have a certain medical condition (supported by medical evidence) that your illness was indeed due to workplace conditions. For example, workers who have asbestosis generally do not need to show that other non-workplace conditions did not cause their disease. Some occupations are more prone to workplace diseases than other professions.

At Silverman, McDonald & Friedman, our Delaware workers’ compensation lawyers work with your physicians to fully document your medical condition. This documentation includes verifying your disease, examining your prognosis, and reviewing all the medical care you need to either improve, stabilize, or slow down any occupational illness you have such as lung disease. To discuss your right to occupational illness benefits through the state workers’ compensation program, call us at 302.888.2900 or fill out our contact form to speak with our lawyers at our offices in Wilmington, Newark, and Seaford.