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Can you collect workers’ compensation if you get sick?

On Behalf of | Jan 8, 2021 | Employment Law |

Most discussions about workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania revolve around injuries sustained on the job. But what if you catch a virus or develop a disease? Here’s what you need to know about workers’ compensation for illnesses and health conditions.

Does workers’ compensation also apply to illnesses?

Typically, you qualify for workers’ compensation if you develop an illness on the job. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can collect workers’ compensation if you catch a cold from one of your co-workers. According to Pennsylvania employment law, for certain occupational diseases, the frequency of the illness must be much greater in that particular industry than it is among other industries. This may not cover common illnesses that affect thousands of people each year, but it could cover industry-specific diseases like lead poisoning.

To qualify for workers’ compensation, your job must have caused you to catch or develop the disease. You don’t necessarily have to be in the workplace; if you fall ill while completing another job-related task, like running errands, you might still be eligible. However, you won’t qualify if you fall ill “off the clock” or develop a disease that has nothing to do with your occupation.  If you get Lyme disease from a tick bite while working in a field, or rabies from a cat bite while working at a pet store, you should be covered.

Employment laws cover illnesses that were directly caused by your occupation as well as pre-existing conditions that were exacerbated by your job. For example, you might have a valid claim if your working conditions made your asthma worse. You’re also covered if you fell ill due to constant, long-term exposure to unsafe working conditions.

All employers are supposed to carry insurance that covers workers’ compensation claims. If you have a valid claim, your employer should process a claim that covers a portion of your wages and your medical expenses. However, if your employer resists filing the claim or, worse, tries to punish you for filing a claim, it’s time to hire an attorney.

How might an attorney help you collect workers’ compensation?

When you work with an attorney, the process will much easier. There’s no guesswork on your part; you’ll have expert help to file a successful claim. If your employer tries to make things difficult, your attorney will help you stand your ground.