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Workers’ comp eligibility for silicosis and asbestosis

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2024 | Workplace Illnesses

Silicosis and asbestosis are diseases that workers can contract from breathing in certain types of dust at their jobs. Silicosis is common among people who work in mining, sandblasting or rock drilling due to their exposure to silica dust. This dust can damage and scar the lungs, leading to coughing, breathing problems and chest pain.

Asbestosis, on the other hand, is caused by breathing in asbestos fibers, which are common in construction materials. This disease can also lead to lung scarring and symptoms similar to silicosis.

These diseases can worsen over time, meaning workers could suffer increasingly severe symptoms. But there is some good news. In North Carolina, workers’ compensation laws can provide some relief. Workers who have these diseases may be able to get money to help pay for medical costs, disability benefits and more. But to get this help, they must meet certain criteria.

Meeting the eligibility requirements under state law

Per state law, a worker qualifies for workers’ compensation if they have spent at least two years in a job breathing in silica or asbestos dust. Also, the start of these two years of exposure couldn’t have been more than ten years before their last exposure to the dust.

What does this mean? If a worker was around this harmful dust more than ten years ago, they can’t get workers’ compensation. This is true even if they were around the dust for a total of two years or more.

Miners and construction workers must be especially careful

Silicosis can take 10 to 30 years to develop following initial exposure to silica dust. This means the law might not provide help for workers who develop the disease a long time after encountering the dust. Workers who believe they have silicosis or asbestosis should take immediate action and file a workers’ compensation claim. By acting quickly, they can avoid potential delays in receiving benefits and start necessary medical treatments as soon as possible.

However, it can be challenging to determine if their case aligns with the state’s two-year rule. In this situation, seeking a legal professional can be beneficial. They can assist workers in compiling essential records, like details about their job and the length of time they encountered silica or asbestos dust. Information like this can be crucial when applying for workers’ compensation.