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April 30, 2021

Does Workers Compensation Cover Illnesses?


Does Workers Compensation Cover Illnesses? 

Workers compensation is typically thought of as covering injuries employees suffer such as sprains, strains and broken bones. While these incidents are covered under workers compensation, workers compensation policies also cover certain illnesses. 

It won’t cover normal flus or allergies, of course. But, if you are a health worker and you contract a serious disease after being stuck with a needle, for example, you may be eligible for workers compensation.  

Essentially, if you’ve contracted an illness because of your work duties, and if your state law does not explicitly rule it out, you’re likely eligible for workers compensation. Another example would be if you are a contractor working on an old building that has asbestos and you fall ill due to the asbestos. In this case, you may be entitled to compensation. 


It’s not always easy to prove that an illness was contracted in the line of duty. The employee has an easier case when the disease has a known connection with the job, and when it is rare to contract the disease outside of that job. If a coal miner develops black lung, chances are he did not contract it from his stove. If someone works with asbestos and contracts asbestosis, it’s not difficult to guess where they got the disease from.  


In some cases, an employee’s pre-existing condition may be covered by workers compensation insurance. This often occurs if the condition was aggravated by the employee’s work duties. For instance, a case of arthritis worsened by lifting heavy boxes at work may be covered, even if the problem did not actually originate at the job.  

Exclusions And Exceptions  

Note that the same exclusions and exceptions exist for illness as for injury. If an employee suffers an illness owing to their own negligence — such as if they break company policy — they likely will not be covered by workers compensation. Someone who develops a respiratory disease because they refused to wear a proper safety equipment around noxious chemicals, for instance, likely does not have a case against their employer.  


If you are a business owner, be sure to speak with your insurance agent about what is and isn’t covered under your workers compensation policy. Employees should also be aware of when they will or won’t receive compensation for a workers compensation claim, especially when it comes to gray areas such as illnesses and pre-existing conditions. After an incident, remain in contact with the workers compensation insurance agent to make the process go smoothly.

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