What is an "occupational disease"?
Accidents happen at work all the time. A slip and fall. A direct trauma. A work-related motor vehicle accident.
But what is an "occupational disease"? Simply put, this is a type of Workers' Compensation claim stemming from an injury that occurs at work over a period of time, rather than an accident that typically occurs in a focal moment in time. Occupational diseases can range from standing too long as a painter causing repetitive foot injuries to developing asbestosis or mesothelioma from having injurious exposure to asbestos at work.
Sometimes, it is hard to determine whether a claim is an "accident" or an "occupational disease".
Sometimes, as a matter of legal strategy, it is better to frame a claim as being an "accident" and other times it is more advantageous to allege an "occupational disease". For instance, under New York law, an "accident" qualifies for presumptions of compensability, including a presumption that an unwitnessed accident occurred, that the accident arose out of and in the course of employment, and that timely notice of the accident was provided to the employer. There are no presumptions of compensability that apply to occupational disease claims, thus at times making these claims harder to prove and establish. However, there are far more lax requirements for timely filing and notice in occupational disease claims than for accident claims.
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