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Boston Workers' Compensation: Diseases FAQs

Boston Workers’ Compensation: Contracting Diseases FAQs

If you have contracted a disease at work, it is vital that you first seek medical attention. Afterwards, you should contact a workers’ compensation attorney to see if you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. The circumstances of each individual case are crucial to determining whether the disease you have contracted qualifies for benefits. Contact an experienced attorney at Bellotti Law Group, P.C. We have over 38 years of experience with workers’ compensation cases. Call 617-225-2100 today. 

Are Diseases Covered By Workers’ Compensation?

A disease contracted at the workplace must be associated with one’s employment in a significant way in order to be covered by workers’ compensation. A disease that arises during the course of one’s employment is not enough to classify the disease as a personal injury (Maggelet’s Case, 228 Mass. 57, 61(1917)). An employee can only receive workers’ compensation for a disease if there is sufficient evidence of a connection between the contracted disease and the employment (Perron’s Case, 325 Mass. 6 (1949)). 

If I Contract a Disease From Another Employee at Work, Is that Covered By Workers’ Compensation?

Simply contracting a disease from another employee is not covered by workers’ compensation. In Lussier v. Sadler Bros., 12 Mass. Workers’ Comp. Rep. 451 (1998), an employee contracted tuberculosis from another employee at her workplace, a sewing shop. The work had nothing to do with providing healthcare, and the court stated that there must be a high likelihood of contracting a disease at one’s employment in order for the disease to be considered a compensable personal injury. 

If I’m Exposed to Toxic Chemicals at Work, Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation?

In order to prove a personal injury that is covered by worker’s compensation benefits, there must be consequences of a disease or chemical exposure to the body. An experienced attorney can fight on your behalf to help make sure you can prove your disease qualifies for workers’ compensation. 

In the case of Ames v. Town of Plymouth, 19 Mass. Workers’ Comp. Rep. 150 (2005), ten employees filed claims due to their exposure to asbestos in the workplace. The judge found that the employees found that the employees did not meet the burden of proof that they had suffered a personal injury. The employees needed to prove a tangible consequence to the exposure of the asbestos. The medical evidence in the case showed that there was no evidence of a lesion or a change in any part of the bodily system that could produce harm or pain. This case showed that in order to prove a disease can be termed a “personal injury”, there must be proof of lesions or change to bodily functions from a workplace incident.  

If I’m Diagnosed with a Disease Due to My Job, Do I Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Benefits? 

A diagnosis of a disease by a medical professional does not necessarily qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. In many cases a diagnosis from a medical professional can qualify for benefits, but each case is unique.

In Canavan’s Case, 432 Mass. 304 (2000), a woman working at a hospital was exposed to chemicals, which she claimed to have caused organic brain syndrome, chemical-induced headaches, immunodeficiency, and MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) secondary to chemical poisoning. The Reviewing Board found that the methodology of the plaintiff’s doctor to establish a diagnosis of MCS was medically unreliable, and therefore could not be considered a “personal injury”. There was also little medical evidence supporting that the work caused MCS. This case shows that the methodology of diagnosing a disease is crucial to determining if a person has a compensable personal injury.

However, in the case of Costello v. Faulkner Hospital, 17 Mass. Workers’ Comp. Rep. 66 (2003), an employee at the hospital was exposed to mold growing on ceiling tiles and was diagnosed with MCS. Although the insurer presented evidence that MCS was not an accepted diagnosis within the medical community, the employee’s medical expert testified that the employee was suffering from several symptoms caused by MCS, such as asthma and allergies. The Reviewing Board decided that the underlying symptoms of MCS were causally related to the workplace, and thus defined a personal injury, qualifying for benefits. 

The circumstances surrounding your case will determine your qualification for benefits. As seen above, differing details can decide whether you will qualify for compensation. Contact an attorney today to help fight on your behalf. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney is the best way to ensure you receive benefits. Call 617-225-2100 for a free consultation today.
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