Workers’ Compensation for Mesothelioma
Workers’ compensation can help you access medical care and disability benefits when you have contracted mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure on the job. Navigating the claims process can be confusing, especially when your condition developed decades after the exposure. The Lanier Law Firm can walk you through the steps and help you file a workers’ compensation claim for mesothelioma.
Workers exposed to asbestos on the job may be entitled to workers’ compensation. The mesothelioma attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm can help you determine whether you qualify and assist you with filing a workers’ compensation claim.
According to data from the Institute for Health Metric and Evaluation (IHME), approximately 40,764 American workers died from asbestos-related illnesses in 2019. Despite the well-known dangers of asbestos, the product is still not completely banned in the United States; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enacted a partial ban in 1989.
As a result, nearly 500,000 workers are exposed to asbestos annually, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Most mesothelioma deaths result from exposures that happened decades ago, even before the 1989 partial ban in some cases.
What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance policy purchased by employers to cover injuries and illnesses sustained by their employees. Workers’ compensation provides benefits to both the employer and the employee.
Employers who purchase workers’ compensation are protected from further liability, which means covered employees cannot seek additional compensation from the employer through a lawsuit, even if the injuries stemmed from employer negligence.
Workers’ compensation provides benefits to employees more quickly than the court system would and without the employee having to prove that their employer was negligent. Workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state, but benefits generally include free medical care for work-related injuries or illnesses and partial wage replacement.
Medical benefits available through workers’ compensation typically include coverage for:
- Emergency care
- Treatment by a doctor
- Medically necessary travel expenses
Every state has varying rules for how medical care is administered. Usually, the employee will be required to choose from a panel of doctors selected by the employer. You may be able to select your own doctor in certain circumstances. If you choose a doctor other than one of the doctors offered by the employer, you may lose your coverage.
Partial Wage Replacement
Partial wage replacement takes the form of the following types of disability:
- Partial short-term disability
- Partial permanent disability
- Total short-term disability
- Total permanent disability
Partial disability refers to a disability in which an employee is not entirely disabled but cannot perform at full physical capacity. The adapted work capacity is sometimes referred to as “light duty.” Workers’ compensation will typically pay disability benefits in an amount that will bring your total pay up to your maximum benefit level if you get paid less for light-duty work.
Total disability is more common with asbestos-related illnesses, and it refers to instances when your doctor verifies that you are completely unable to work temporarily or permanently.
How much is partial wage replacement?The amount you receive for partial wage replacement is set by state law. In most states, the amount is around two-thirds of your average wages during a preset time frame prior to your injury or illness. Since asbestos-related illnesses typically emerge decades after exposure, many workers are no longer working where the exposure occurred. Whether they work elsewhere or have retired, workers’ compensation is less straightforward in these cases. The mesothelioma lawyers at The Lanier Law Firm can help workers explore their options.
Workers’ compensation death benefits provide payments to the deceased’s spouse, children, or other dependents if they died from a work-related injury or illness.
Payment Options for Death Benefits
- A one-time lump sum payment, which varies from state to state
- Periodic payments comparable to the disability payments the deceased would have been awarded had they lived
Who qualifies for mesothelioma workers’ compensation?
To qualify for workers’ compensation for an asbestos-related illness, you generally have to meet the following criteria:
- The employer must carry workers’ compensation insurance
- A claimant who is filing within state-established deadlines
- Diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness with evidence that your exposure occurred on the job
- A covered employee who is not classified as an independent contractor
Occupations with the Highest Asbestos
Asbestos is a pervasive threat to individuals in numerous types of work environments. Workers in the following occupations face the highest mesothelioma cancer risks:
Other occupations, such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and railroad workers, are also at risk of exposure.
Can I file mesothelioma workers’ compensation claims against multiple employers?
Exposure to asbestos through multiple employers is not uncommon. State laws determine which employers are liable when diagnosed with an asbestos illness. Many states adhere to the last injurious exposure doctrine, and others let you choose between the employer with the most significant exposure or the last employer.
A few states allow claims against multiple defendants. These cases can become complicated because any disability award may be offset by other disability awards or social security if you are eligible. Medical benefits will be coordinated with Medicare and other providers.
What is the last injurious exposure doctrine?
The last injurious exposure doctrine is when an occupational disease, such as mesothelioma, was caused by a succession of jobs or could have been caused by one of the jobs. In this case, the most recent employer with exposure risk is considered liable.
Do all employers provide workers’ compensation?
Most states require employers to provide workers’ compensation with a few exceptions. For example, Texas does not require it according to the Texas Workforce Commission, and some states offer exemptions for certain small employers. However, your employer’s workers’ compensation policy may not cover your asbestos-related illness for these reasons:
What is the statute of limitations on workers’ compensation claims for mesothelioma?
Deadlines for filing a workers’ compensation claim vary from state to state. Certain states have strict deadlines that expire when the mesothelioma diagnosis occurs. These are also known as statutes of repose. Other states set a deadline from the date of diagnosis that typically ranges from one to three years.
Similar deadlines for filing a claim for death benefits are imposed.
Should I file a claim for mesothelioma workers’ compensation?
Covered employers are exempt from civil lawsuits, so workers’ compensation may be your only remedy against your employer.
Workers’ compensation claims are generally paid more quickly than other forms of compensation. Filing a workers’ compensation claim will not bar you from filing a claim against third-party sources that supplied asbestos-containing materials to your employer.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Workers’ compensation claims are typically filed through the employer by contacting your supervisor or the designated individual in the human resources department. The filing process may differ depending on state laws, but they often follow the same sequence:
- The employee reports the work-related injury to the employer
- The employer provides a claim form to the employee
- The employer submits the form to the workers’ compensation insurance carrier
- The insurance carrier approves or denies the claim
When latent illnesses like mesothelioma occur decades later, your employer may no longer exist. If this happens, you may still be covered. The difference is that you will most likely deal directly with the insurer. Our mesothelioma attorneys can help you determine which insurer your employer used and help you file a claim directly with the insurer.
What are my options if my mesothelioma workers’ compensation claim is denied?
Every state gives you the right to appeal if your claim was denied. The recommended course of action will vary based on the reason for the denial. Employers are also well-known to resist paying claims because they wish to keep their workers’ compensation premium low. Thus, the denial of your claim may be illegitimate.
If the claim was denied because a deadline was missed, the workers’ compensation laws for that jurisdiction might still protect the employer from liability, preventing you from filing a lawsuit against the employer.
However, you may have the option to sue a third party, such as a manufacturer or distributor that provided asbestos products to your employer. The dedicated asbestos attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm will pursue every avenue on your behalf, including helping with your appeal and identifying liable parties.
How can The Lanier Law Firm help me with my mesothelioma workers’ compensation claim?
When you contact The Lanier Law Firm, our asbestos litigation team immediately goes to work for you. Workers’ compensation claims can be complex when your claim pertains to a latent illness such as mesothelioma, but our attorneys can navigate this process on your behalf, taking care of such details as the following:
Why is The Lanier Law Firm the best choice for a mesothelioma workers’ compensation claim?
With over 30 years of experience helping individuals and their families with their mesothelioma claims, The Lanier Law Firm is one of the most experienced law firms to help you. Our record of successful case results reflects the hard work our award-winning attorneys invest into each client’s case.
Workers’ compensation cases tend to have strict deadlines. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness caused by exposure at work, it is imperative to contact the experienced and skilled attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm before it is too late. The initial consultation is free, and we never charge fees until we win compensation for you. Contact us today to get started.