If you work as a longshoreman or on the docks, you probably know you can claim under The Longshore and Harbor Workers´ Act (LHWA) if you have an accident. You might not know it also covers occupational diseases.
What classifies as an occupational disease?
The Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation (DLHWC) defines an occupational disease as “an illness or medical condition which develops as a result of exposure to harmful conditions or substances in the workplace.”
These could include:
- Asbestos-related diseases
- Skin diseases
- Autoimmune disease
Do not be afraid to seek legal advice if you are unsure whether your illness is covered. Many of the occupational diseases you could pick up working on the docks or as a longshoreman may not present symptoms for years. That does not prevent you from claiming. As soon as you discover you have a work-related disease, you have two years to submit a compensation claim.
What happens if I am unsure where I picked up the disease?
If you worked for various employers, you might not be able to pinpoint exactly where you picked up the disease. The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs will undertake to find out whom to claim against.
Beware that employer’s insurers may try to evade responsibility and deny your claim. Filing your claim can be challenging. It is wise to seek legal help to ensure you comply with the guidelines and do not see your request denied due to paperwork errors. Occupational illnesses can have a devastating effect on your life. They could prevent you from working and require considerable medical expense.