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Can you seek compensation for common illnesses in the workplace?

There are many kinds of workplace illnesses that can result in you having to miss work, from common illnesses like the flu or a cold to serious illnesses such as cancer caused by exposure to toxins. Even the most common workplace illnesses could result in a workers' compensation claim depending on your situation. Here are a few examples.

Catching the flu

It probably comes as no surprise that catching the flu is a problem in busy workplaces where people interact. Most offices encourage getting the flu shot to protect those who can't from the potentially life-threatening illness. While many people get sick and then recover within a few days, others may not be so lucky. If you end up with a flu that was going around the office and develop pneumonia, for example, you may find yourself in the hospital for several days and have to miss work for a week or longer. At that point, it's worth considering a workers' compensation claim if you can show that you caught the flu while you were at work. It may be helpful if you could show that a co-worker had a particularly bad flu and chose to come to work, anyway; for example, those who had the H1N1 could have spread a life-threatening flu and weren't supposed to go into work.

Suffering from strep

Another condition that spreads fairly easily is strep throat. It can result in tonsils swelling up, difficulty swallowing, fevers and other issues. Strep can be passed from person to person for up to 21 days without treatment. If a coworker decides not to seek treatment when he or she knows that strep is likely, you could file a complaint and may have a case if you end up sick and have to miss work.

It's not always easy to prove that a simple illness that goes around each year is a direct result of being on the job, but with the right evidence and information on how your illness progressed, you may be able to access workers' compensation or other benefits.

Source: Lifesize, "Six Common Office Illnesses and Their Contagious Periods," Julian Fields, accessed Nov. 03, 2016

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Jay Gervasi, P.A.
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