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Michael J. Doyle, Attorney At Law Michael J. Doyle, Attorney At Law
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Can Getting Sick at Work Make You Eligible for Workers’ Comp?

Woman wears medical mask

You probably understand that workers’ compensation benefits in New Mexico are meant to help you keep your finances afloat while you recover from a work-related injury. But did you know that workers’ compensation is meant to address any type of harm, not just a physical injury suffered in a workplace accident? That is to say, work-related illnesses – also called occupational illnesses – are included under the workers’ compensation coverage umbrella as well.

What is an Occupational Illness?

An occupational illness is an illness or disease contracted due to the expectations or duties of your work. Simply getting sick at work because someone showed up with the flu might not be enough to constitute an occupational illness. But being required to work with ill patients as a nurse, for example, and contracting an illness due to regular exposure should.

Work-related illnesses can also be caused by exposure to hazardous and volatile chemicals. Many people who work in industrial fields have to spend their days around dangerous chemicals that could trigger severe allergic reactions or other health consequences. In a recent example of dangerous chemicals in the workplace, people across the country have sued Monsanto in the past few years, claiming that using their Roundup weed killer products caused the development of their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Other examples of occupational illnesses cited in workers’ compensation claims include:

  • Hearing loss: Many workplaces expose employees to loud environments each and every day, from restaurant kitchens to public transportation hubs. Even with protective earwear, workers can begin to lose their hearing or develop tinnitus.
  • Back pain: Any occupation that requires a worker to lift, carry, and haul heavy items or products in the average day puts that worker at risk of suffering a back injury or developing chronic back pain.
  • Respiratory complications: Working in an industry with polluted or smoky air can cause respiratory health problems, sometimes near-immediately but often years into the future. Mesothelioma caused by exposure to airborne asbestos particles is one of the most well-known examples of respiratory illnesses suffered in the line of work.

When is an Illness Severe Enough for Workers’ Comp?

Experiencing a bout of an occupational illness that takes you out of work does not automatically make you eligible for workers’ compensation coverage. As it is with any workers’ compensation claim filed in New Mexico, you need to miss at least seven days of work due to your illness before your workers’ compensation claim will be considered. Or you need to be diagnosed with a severe illness that is expected to make you miss at least a week of work.

For further assistance with a workers’ comp claim in New Mexico, you can call (505) 219-2176 and connect with Michael J. Doyle, Attorney at Law.