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It can be hard to get workers' comp for diseases

For some things, it’s not that hard to collect workers’ compensation. All of the proof is fairly easy to gather. When a machine breaks and amputates someone’s arm, for example, it’s very clear that the injury is only related to the job and that the costs connected to that injury may need to be covered. All that needs to be shown is that the worker didn’t cause the accident in some way, such as by ignoring proper safety procedures.

For diseases, though, experts warn that it’s often far harder.

One reason is time. A person may not show symptoms for years after he or she has left the job. This can make it hard to gather proper evidence, and the full extent of the damage may not be seen for decades.

Another issue is simply proving that the job was to blame at all. Many diseases may be tied to a workplace environment, but they could be caused by other things.

For example, a worker who had to breathe chemical fumes may claim that the fumes gave him or her cancer 10 years later. That may be true, but cancer can also be caused by things like smoking cigarettes or having radon in the home. It could be sheer bad luck; some people who have never smoked do get lung cancer.

As you can imagine, while it’s easy to tie a quick physical injury to the workplace, definitively proving that a disease years down the line was caused by a workplace environment is not nearly so simple. This is why it’s so important for workers in Nebraska to know all of their legal options as the process plays out.

Source: Public Integrity, “Disease victims often shut out of workers’ comp system,” Jamie Smith Hopkins, accessed June 17, 2016