Most people associate worker’s compensation with injuries on the job. But although it may be overshadowed by workplace accidents, the category of occupational illness is also important when considering potential eligibility for Iowa worker’s compensation benefits.
Central to knowing whether you are eligible to receive benefits for an occupational illness is how Iowa defines such an illness. The following are key elements in making this determination.
The disease must have a direct causal connection with the worker’s employment. In must follow as a natural incident to exposure in connection with employment, and must be related to the characteristics of the occupation, process or business that the employee was engaged in. Any challenge to this part of the definition will likely attempt to show that the illness had no connection with the worker’s employment.
It is not necessary that the illness be foreseeable, but an analysis of how the employee contracted the illness needs to show that it originated in an employment-related risk and was a rational consequence of such employment. Challenges to this part of the definition may seek to demonstrate that the illness could have been contracted outside of the employment as well as because of it.
If the illness may have been contracted by the employee during his or her time spent with more than one employer, then responsibility for the worker’s compensation payment goes to the employer that the employee was last working for.
This post is intended only as an introduction to what an occupational disease is. It cannot and does not offer a comprehensive treatment of the subject – for example, it does not address the time limits within which a claim for occupational illness must be made – and you should not construe it as any kind of legal advice. If you believe that you or a loved one has incurred an illness in connection with employment, we recommend seeking legal counsel from a law firm experienced with Iowa worker’s compensation law.