An occupational disease is defined as a disease that a person acquires via excessive hazards that are particular to the workplace where he or she is employed. For the disease to be recognized as an occupational disease, it must be distinctly associated with the particular employment, occupation, process or trade whereby the employee was consistently exposed over time within ordinary working circumstances related to that particular employment, occupation, process or trade. Employees who file for workers’ compensation benefits because of an occupational disease must establish that the disease was naturally acquired as a direct result of being exposed to those hazards particularly associated with the infected worker’s employment.
A disease is not considered an occupational disease if it did not occur as a natural and direct exposure to the ordinary and normal hazards associated with a certain employment. Common diseases that spread among the other employees, diseases that are influenced by outside weather conditions and chronic disease affecting the skeletal joints are also not considered occupational diseases.
Additionally, if the disease is common to the public, it is not considered an occupational disease unless it produces complications that reflect an occupational disease. In some cases, occupational diseases may lead to an employee’s disablement, meaning he or she is totally incapacitated and cannot return to any employment or is partly incapacitated and restricted from certain jobs.
When employees suffer a work injury or illness in South Carolina, they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Under the claim, work-related injuries and occupational diseases are covered. A local attorney who handles workers’ compensation claims may be able to help the worker obtain the benefits in a timely manner or offer other options that may result in a larger settlement. Because this information should not be taken as specific legal advice, an attorney may be able to better advise an individual on their unique situation.