Workers’ compensation is often associated with catastrophic injuries that happened at a specific point. A fall, overexertion or being struck by an object are all common examples of this. However, injured or ill workers can also claim workers’ compensation when an injury or illness gradually happened over time.
Examples of gradual injuries and illnesses
Gradually onset injuries or occupational diseases can take many forms and result from a wide array of activities or conditions, including:
- Years of typing at a computer leading to carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis
- Ongoing exposure to chemicals or toxic substances resulting in life-threatening illnesses
Repetitive stress injuries are often associated with gradually onset injuries. However, workers across many different industries can develop injuries or illnesses stemming from the workplace over time, from construction and manufacturing workers to nurses, office workers, teachers and more.
Special considerations for firefighters and police officers
Firefighters, police officers, and Correctional Officers in Maryland have unique considerations for certain occupational diseases. For example, if they develop heart disease or hypertension that leads to disability or death, or if a firefighter is diagnosed with certain types of cancer or lung disease, the condition is presumed to be work related. This is referred to as a presumption of compensability, which allows these workers to more easily seek the benefits and compensation they need.
What to understand about filing a workers’ compensation claim
Filing for workers’ compensation after suffering a gradually onset condition can differ slightly from the process a worker injured in a single event will follow. Maryland workers are generally encouraged to report the injury to their employer immediately. However, you might not understand the extent of your injury or illness for some time.
If your health has suffered due to your work, consider discussing your situation with a workers’ compensation attorney, even if the condition developed over time. These cases can be complex and your employer will likely dispute that your injury or illness is work related. Getting help to understand if you have a valid claim and what steps to take will be crucial to giving yourself the best chance to recover the financial help you need.