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Understanding the Illinois Occupational Diseases Act

| Apr 27, 2014 | Workers’ Compensation

Most employees realize that if they are injured on the job, they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, many workers don’t comprehend that under Illinois law, they are eligible to receive compensation if their injury or illness develops as a result of continuous employment. These illnesses are often not traceable to one specific event.

Defining occupational diseases

An occupational disease is any illness or ailment that occurs as a result of an employee’s line of work. A disease can be classified as occupational if it is seen in a group of workers more often than workers in a similar industry or in the population as a whole. Some common examples of occupational diseases include:

  • Injuries caused by repeated motions, like carpal tunnel syndrome, epicondylitis and trigger finger
  • Loss of hearing in either one or both ears due to prolonged exposure to loud noises in the workplace
  • A disability that emerges as a result of exposure to radiation

Under the Illinois Occupational Diseases Act, an employee is eligible to receive compensation if there is a direct connection between the employee’s workplace duties and the disease. It is also important to remember that an employee has rights under this act even if their disease was not foreseen or expected but does have a noticeable connection between the employee’s line of work after contraction.

Employee rights and responsibilities

The benefits recoverable under the Illinois Occupational Disease Act are similar to the ones available from the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act. For example, under this act, employees are entitled to compensation from their employer which covers the cost of any medical care required to treat the effects of the injury or disease, provides disability payments for every missed day of work and awards compensation for the permanent impact of the injury. The amount the injured employee receives in lost wages is typically based on what the employee earned the previous year. Additionally, if the occupational disease caused a permanent disability, employees may receive an upfront lump sum or disability payments over time.

An employee that wishes to acquire benefits under this act must file a claim within three years from the date of the disease’s development or disablement. In addition to this, an employee must also provide medical records relating to the illness and prove that it developed as a result of their employment as opposed to external factors. When filing a claim under the Occupational Diseases Act, strict adherence to filing guidelines and deadlines is essential. An employee suffering from an occupational disease may benefit from working with an attorney who can assist them with this process.