Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation For A Chronic Illness?
A chronic illness is defined as a disease or medical condition that lasts a long time, will not go away on its own, and can result in serious disability/impairment. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services describes chronic illnesses and medical conditions as an “epidemic” and a “serious problem” in our state. If your chronic illness was caused by your job, you can receive workers’ compensation benefits. Here, our Milwaukee workers’ compensation lawyers highlight three key things you should know about workers’ comp benefits for chronic illnesses.
1. A Chronic Illness May Qualify as an Occupational Diseases
Under Wisconsin law, employers are required to provide no-fault workers’ comp benefits to their employees. Workers’ compensation insurance covers workers who suffered mental or physical harm while on the job. You can bring a claim for an “accidental injury” or an “occupational disease.”
Most often, chronic illnesses fall into the category of occupational disease.
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) defines an occupational disease as “chronic physical or mental harm caused by exposure over a period of time to some employment-related substance, condition or activity.” Occupational diseases come in a wide range of forms—from arthritis and back problems to high blood pressure and certain cancers.
2. The Challenge: Connecting a Condition to the “Course and Scope” of Employment
Workers’ comp insurance covers “job-related” injuries and illnesses. With accidental injuries, it is often clear as to whether or not the incident occurred at work. In contrast, it can sometimes be challenging to link a chronic illness to employment. As occupational diseases generally develop gradually, there is often not a clear “onset” date. To receive workers’ compensation benefits for an occupational disease (chronic illness), an applicant must build a strong case that connects their medical issue to the “course and scope” of their employment.
3. You Must Report a Chronic Illness to Your Employer as Soon as Possible
Wisconsin’s workers’ comp regulations require injured workers to report their accident to their supervisor within 30 days. Failure to notify an employer in time could prevent you from recovering the full and fair benefits that you are owed. Notably, the standard is somewhat different in chronic illness cases.
It is your responsibility to report your chronic illness to your employer as soon as you believe that it was caused by your job. You have 30 days from the date you knew or should have known that your illness is work-related to notify your employer.
Are You Filing for Workers’ Compensation for Chronic Illness?
We can help. At Gillick, Wicht, Gillick & Graf, our Wisconsin workers’ comp lawyers have the skills, legal expertise, and experience that you can rely on for successful results. If you have any questions about work injury claims and chronic illnesses, we are here to help. Contact our law firm to get a free review of your case. We handle workers’ comp claims and appeals throughout Wisconsin, including Milwaukee, Oconomowoc, Oak Creek, Racine, South Milwaukee, and West Bend.