Asbestos exposure can occur in a variety of settings and circumstances, but one of the most common is on the job. Special considerations go into asbestos cases involve workplace exposure. For one thing, such cases often involve multiple exposures, sometimes over multiple work sites and multiple employers, making it more difficult to track where the exposure came from and who should be held responsible.
Another challenge in workplace exposure cases is deciding whether to file a workers’ compensation claim with an employer, or to file a legal action against a manufacturer responsible for the asbestos exposure. In some cases, an employee may be able to pursue both types of claims, but it depends on the circumstances.
Before deciding to pursue a workers’ compensation claim based on asbestos exposure, there are several issues that should be considered. First of all, there is the issue of eligibility for workers’ compensation and coverage of asbestos-related injuries. Employees, of course, are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, provided they meet the other requirements, but independent contractors are not. In some cases, employers improperly classify workers in order to avoid workers’ compensation costs. When this has happened, it is important for a worker suffering from an asbestos-related disease to seek help addressing the situation to the extent possible.
In addition, there is the issue of whether an asbestos-related work injury can be adequately proven. Under Louisiana workers’ compensation law, asbestos-related diseases may be compensable as occupational diseases, but the employee must be able to prove that the occupational disease arose out of and in the course of employment. Proving this isn’t always an easy matter.
There is also the statute of limitations to consider with workers’ compensation claims. In Louisiana, an employee must file a claim within one year of the date the disease presented itself, the date the employee became disabled from working because of the disease, or the date the employee finds out or has reasonable grounds to believe the disease is work-related. Because of the long latency period of asbestos-related diseases, this can be a potentially complicated issue.
In addition to these considerations, there is also the type of compensation available that needs to be considered. We’ll look at this issue in our next post, as well as claims against manufacturers responsible for asbestos exposure.