Occupational Diseases

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Queens Occupational Disease Lawyers

Diagnosed With a Work-Related Illness in NYC? Harris Firm, LLC Can Help!

In New York, victims who contract diseases in the course of their employment have the right to receive benefits through their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. In some cases, workers may also be able to pursue civil claims against third parties that negligently caused their illnesses.

If you or someone you love were diagnosed with a work-related illness, our experienced legal team at the Harris Firm, LLC can help explore your available options for recovering compensation and provide the counsel and support to help you navigate the legal journey ahead.

The Harris Firm, LLC is an award-winning plaintiffs’ firm that’s devoted solely to helping workers and families who’ve suffered losses due to work-related injuries and illnesses. We’re backed by decades of experience and have recovered millions of dollars in benefits and compensation for clients.

Our Queens occupational disease attorneys proudly serve workers and families throughout New York City and offer FREE consultations. Call (718) 487-8669 or contact us online to request yours.

What Is an Occupational Disease?

Occupational diseases are ailments that employees develop as a direct consequence of their job environment or work-related activities. These conditions can be initiated or exacerbated by workplace exposure to various physical, chemical, biological, or psychosocial factors.

Occupational diseases are distinctly different from workplace injuries, which are usually the result of an acute, singular event. Some illnesses contracted by workers can develop in just hours or days after exposure, and many others develop over time, with symptoms and complications becoming apparent only years after initial exposure.

Some well-known examples of occupational diseases include:

  • Mesothelioma: A form of cancer most often caused by exposure to asbestos, commonly affecting the lining of the lungs.
  • Noise-Induced hearing loss: Hearing impairment resulting from prolonged exposure to high levels of noise, often without proper ear protection.
  • Work-related cancers: Various types of cancers can be induced by exposure to carcinogenic substances, including benzene, nickel, or radon, which may be present at certain worksites.
  • Infectious diseases: These are contracted due to exposure to pathogens in the workplace, including hospitals, laboratories, or other settings that may handle infectious agents.
  • Lung diseases: In addition to diseases like mesothelioma, occupational exposure to harmful substances can cause a range of other lung diseases, including lung cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and more. These diseases often result from routine exposure to irritants, dust, and other materials that exist on worksites.
  • Skin conditions: Workers in certain fields that require them to work with hazardous materials may suffer from skin conditions such as contact dermatitis or eczema.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders. These include a variety of disorders of the muscles, tendons, joints, cartilage, and nerves due to working conditions, and commonly include tendonitis, lateral epicondylitis, hernias, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Mental health issues. Some workers may be exposed to psychological stressors that increase their risks of suffering from mental health problems, including anxiety and PTSD.

Understanding occupational diseases is essential for many reasons. First and foremost, an understanding of the hazards that exist in a workplace can guide employers in taking the proper precautions to control them and adequately protect workers. Knowing what occupational disease risks exist in a certain occupation is also important for employees who may be able to seek benefits and compensation when they contract a qualifying health condition in the course of their employment.

Common Causes of Occupational Illness

Workplace illness risks vary greatly depending on industry, job duties, and other factors. Some general examples of what can cause a worker to develop an occupational illness include:

  • Noise exposure. Exposure to loud noise is a leading cause of work-related illness, whether it’s on a construction site, in a factory, or in other settings where workers routinely work with or near sounds that exceed 75 decibels (roughly equivalent to the sound of a motorcycle).
  • Asbestos exposure. Occupational exposure is the leading cause of asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. Workers in construction, building trades, and other industries known for historical asbestos use must take precautions to safeguard against asbestos exposure and wear proper PPE.
  • Ergonomic issues. Jobs that require workers to exert themselves physically or which expose workers to repetitive movement, vibration, and awkward positions greatly increase a person’s risks of suffering occupational musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Biological agents. Workers can be exposed to various biological agents, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, in a variety of ways. This includes close contact with sick patients in the medical field, as well as work in agriculture, food processing, and other industries where workplace hygiene is critically important.
  • Chemical exposure. Exposure to toxic substances is a leading cause of workplace illnesses. Some common toxins encountered by workers include lead, benzene, beryllium, and more.
  • Psychosocial issues. Stress, trauma, violence, harassment, and other similar emotional and psychological conditions in the workplace can cause a variety of mental health issues, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Who Is at Risk of Occupational Diseases and Illnesses

While workers in nearly every field and occupation face some risks of occupational disease, those who perform certain types of jobs have statistically been associated with greater incidences of work-related illnesses. According to data from the NCBI, some of these include:

Seeking Compensation After an Occupational Disease in New York

Workers diagnosed with work-related illnesses may have options when it comes to recovering compensation for their losses. This includes workers’ compensation, which can provide needed benefits, as well as civil claims brought under New York Labor Law or other causes of action. For example:

  • Workers’ Compensation. In New York, most workers who contract work-related illnesses are eligible to recover benefits under their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Workers’ compensation allows workers sickened in the course of their employment to obtain medical care, wage supplementation, and payments for disability in exchange for the right to file a civil claim against the employer.
  • New York Labor Law. In some cases, workers with occupational diseases may be able to pursue civil claims against non-employers under New York Labor Law. This includes Labor Law § 200, which requires worksite owners and contractors to maintain reasonably safe work environments. If premises owners or contractors fail to address hazards that pose risks of occupational diseases, they may be held liable for damages suffered by sickened workers.
  • Third-Party Injury Claims. Some workers with occupational illnesses may have grounds to pursue civil claims against third parties responsible for causing them harm. This may include claims brought against the manufacturer of a dangerous or hazardous product, or against some other party who isn’t their employer if it can be shown that the party exposed the worker to a hazard.

Navigating the New York workers’ compensation system and other avenues for compensation can be challenging, which is why it is best for workers and families to enlist the support of proven attorneys who can guide them through the process.

At the Harris Firm, PLLC, our award-winning Queens occupational illness lawyers have extensive experience helping clients in matters involving workers’ compensation, NY Labor Law, and third-party civil claims, and is available to review your case and options during a consultation.

What Can You Recover If You Suffer from an Occupational Disease?

If you or someone you love suffered an occupational disease, filing a workers’ compensation claim and/or a civil claim can help you recover needed compensation.

In a workers’ compensation case, for example, you can recover benefits for:

  • Medical Expenses: Covering treatment costs related to the occupational disease.
  • Disability Payments: Providing financial support if the disease leads to temporary or permanent disability.
  • Rehabilitation Costs: Assisting with the costs associated with rehabilitating a worker to return to the workforce.
  • Survivor Benefits: In cases where an occupational disease results in death, family members may be eligible for compensation.

If you have grounds to pursue a civil claim, you can recover compensation that goes beyond what’s available under workers’ compensation. For example, recoverable damages in civil claims include:

  • Medical Expenses: Covering past and future medical expenses (at any doctor you choose).
  • Lost Income: A full recovery of lost income and lost future wages caused by a diminished earning capacity or the inability to work.
  • Non-Economic Losses: Victims in civil claims can recover compensation for their non-economic damages, which includes things like pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and loss of quality or enjoyment of life.
  • Compensation for Loved Ones. Family members of workers with serious or fatal occupational diseases are eligible to recover compensation for their emotional losses, including their loss of consortium and emotional support.

Why You Need Our Lawyers for an Occupational Disease Claim

The Harris Firm, LLC is devoted exclusively to helping workers and families who’ve suffered losses due to occupational injuries and illnesses. We know that clients come to us amid highly turbulent times and invest the necessary effort into helping them pursue the compensation they need. If you’re on the fence about working with legal counsel, simply consider why it is so important:

  • Step-by-step guidance. Navigating an unfamiliar legal process is never easy, but it can become incredibly burdensome when you or a loved one are dealing with an occupational disease. That’s why our team makes it a point to help clients thoroughly evaluate their options, explain what they can expect, and guide them step-by-step through the avenue that can help them obtain the maximum financial recovery possible.
  • Legal support. In addition to guiding clients through the appropriate legal channels, our attorneys provide the legal insight workers need to build the strongest possible claims. This includes conducting the necessary investigations to gather evidence that connects an illness to a work-related exposure factor, accurately assessing and conveying the scope of injuries and losses, and positioning a case for the best possible outcome.
  • Leveling the playing field. Insurance companies are corporations more concerned with protecting their bottom lines than doing right by sickened workers and their families. At the Harris Firm, LLC, we provide the firepower and resources clients need to level the playing field with these powerful corporations and handle any disputes, denials, and challenges they throw their way, including arguments that illnesses did not arise from a claimant’s work.

Speak With a Queens Occupational Disease Attorney Today: (718) 487-8669

If you or someone you love were diagnosed with a work-related illness, our team at the Harris Firm, LLC wants to help.

Backed by a team of highly experienced attorneys, we’ve devoted more than 25 years to fighting on behalf of workers and their families and have cultivated a reputation as one of the region’s most trusted workers’ compensation and work injury firms. From our office in Queens and the Bronx, we proudly serve clients across New York City and beyond.

Discuss your potential case with a Queens occupational disease attorney from the Harris Firm, LLC. Call (718) 487-8669 or contact us online to request a FREE consultation.

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