Workplace injury and illness can come in a wide variety of forms, including everything from broken bones to persistent lung issues, to fatal diseases. Ordinarily, of course, employers will pay benefits to employees who suffer from work-related injury or illness, but sometimes employers or their insurance carriers don’t cooperate and an injured employee or the surviving relatives are left without the compensation they deserve.
Proving that an injury or illness is work-related is one area where employers and their insurance carriers can sometimes put up barriers to workers’ compensation benefits. Cases where an injury or illness is very clearly connected to the employee’s work are, of course, easier to prove, but cases where the connection is not as obvious can be a real challenge. The types of cases we are talking about here include things like prolonged exposure to chemicals or toxic materials, including asbestos.
The general rule here in California is that an employee is only able to receive workers’ compensation benefits when the injury or illness arose out of and in the course of employment. State law imposes various other requirements, such as that the condition must have been “proximately caused” by the employment.
Proving proximate causation with respect to chemical exposure is not always an easy matter, and it is important for those who have been exposed to asbestos on the job to work with an experienced attorney make sure they receive the compensation they deserve. This includes not only workers’ compensation benefits, for an injured or ill worker or surviving family members, but personal injury or wrongful death damages as well.
Source: Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation, “Background Paper on Workers’ Compensation Causation and Apportionment, May, 2004.