When most people think of Workers’ Compensation, they think about on-the-job accidents. This might include slip and fall injuries, injuries related to equipment or machinery, or car accidents that occur while making a delivery for your employer. While these injuries are all covered by Workers’ Compensation, Workers’ Compensation law in New York also protects against occupational diseases and repetitive stress injuries. Occupational diseases like lung disease may occur after long-term exposure to dangerous substances like silica or asbestos; also, a loss of hearing from daily exposure to loud noises in your work environment may qualify as an occupational disease. Repetitive injuries can occur when workers perform the same task day in and day out; common repetitive stress injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as chronic back, shoulder, or knee problems that occur from many years of doing the same job. These chronic injuries can cause a lot of pain and prevent you from doing your job.
Do not Avoid Your Doctor’s Visit
Regardless of the type of injury you have suffered, you must see a doctor who is authorized by the Workers’ Compensation Board to handle Workers’ Compensation cases. He or she will document how your case is work-related and take care of filing the appropriate medical paperwork. We cannot stress enough how important it is to be honest with your medical provider about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. If your doctor does not have the full picture, he or she cannot treat your injuries properly. In addition, your medical records will become evidence in your workers’ compensation case. If you fail to disclose symptoms and later tell the doctor that you are having new pain, the insurance company may assume the new symptoms were caused by an entirely different incident— and not the one that is work-related.
Most important, if you suffer from any of the injuries we discussed above – including occupational diseases, repetitive injuries, or chronic back, knee or shoulder pain – ask your doctor if these injuries could be or are work-related. If the answer is yes, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.