Understanding Your Rights: Workers’ Compensation for Occupational Diseases

As a workers’ compensation lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, I’ve seen many cases where employees are unsure about their rights regarding occupational diseases. It’s crucial to understand that you have the right to compensation for work-related illnesses, just as you do for physical injuries. Let’s break down what constitutes an occupational disease and how you can file a successful claim.

What Is an Occupational Disease?

An occupational disease is a condition that arises due to the nature of your job. Unlike sudden accidents, these diseases develop over time due to repeated exposure to harmful conditions or substances at work. Examples include:

  • Respiratory diseases from inhaling dust, chemicals, or other hazardous substances.
  • Skin conditions from contact with irritating or sensitizing chemicals.
  • Hearing loss from prolonged exposure to loud noises.
  • Repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive motions.

Case Examples

To give you a better understanding, let’s look at some real-life examples:

– MRSA Infections: In a notable case, an employee contracted a MRSA infection due to cuts and scrapes at work. Initially, the claim was denied because there was no direct evidence linking the infection to the workplace. However, upon appeal, the court recognized the infection as a sequela (a condition resulting from a previous disease or injury) of the work-related injuries, granting the employee the benefits.

– Hearing Loss: Gradual hearing damage from constant noise exposure is another common occupational disease. If your job involves working in a loud environment without adequate hearing protection, you may develop hearing issues over time. Filing a claim for such conditions can help you get the compensation needed for medical treatment and hearing aids.

Filing a Claim for Occupational Diseases in Ohio

Here are the steps to file a workers’ compensation claim for an occupational disease in Ohio:

1. Seek Medical Attention: The first step is to get a medical diagnosis of your condition. Your doctor can provide crucial evidence linking your disease to your job.

2. Notify Your Employer: You must inform your employer about your condition as soon as possible. In Ohio, you have two years from the date of diagnosis to file a claim.

3. Gather Evidence: Collect all relevant documents, including medical records, work history, and any other evidence showing your exposure to harmful conditions at work. Witness statements from coworkers can also support your claim.

4. File Your Claim: Submit your claim to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). You can do this online or through paper forms. Ensure all information is accurate and complete to avoid delays. (We can do this for you can learn how to file a claim here.)

5. Legal Assistance: It can be beneficial to consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer to ensure your claim is robust and all necessary documentation is in place. A lawyer can also help if your claim is initially denied and you need to appeal.

Why Legal Help Is Important

Occupational disease claims can be more complex than claims for acute injuries. Employers and insurance companies may dispute the connection between your disease and your job. Having an experienced lawyer can make a significant difference in proving your case and securing the benefits you deserve.

If you suspect you have an occupational disease related to your job, don’t hesitate to seek legal advice. Contact our office for a consultation, and we’ll help you navigate the workers’ compensation system to protect your rights and ensure you receive fair compensation.


Understanding your rights regarding occupational diseases is essential for securing the benefits you need to manage your health and livelihood. If you’re dealing with a work-related illness, take action promptly to protect your rights. For more information or assistance with your claim, feel free to reach out to our office.

If you need further assistance or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Your health and rights are our top priority, and we’re here to help you every step of the way.

Columbus Workers Comp attorney, Tom Marchese
I’m Thomas Marchese,


I was one of the first attorneys in the State of Ohio to be board certified as a specialist in worker’s compensation law and I will personally handle your entire case.

You will never be handed off to an inexperienced associate and your case is not just another file in a stack. From consultation to final settlements, I will be by your side.

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