Occupational Diseases in Pennsylvania
October 13, 2020
Welcome back to Legal Tip Tuesday, a unique service for our friends and clients of QuatriniRafferty. Always fun to do always fun to share information with you. Today, I wanted to talk about occupational diseases in Pennsylvania. Very appropriate, of course, with COVID all around us. Occupational diseases come in very many forms. Everything from black lung, to hepatitis, to cancers contracted by firefighters. So, how do you prove an occupational disease? Well, let’s back up.
What is an occupational disease mean? So, if I am a coal miner and I’m in that dust every day, that dust can cause a pulmonary problem for me with the fancy name of pneumoconiosis. I used to do black lung work when I first came out of law school. Very rewarding to help somebody who is toiled underground for many years have a benefit for that quality of life they’ve lost because their breathing is so impaired. Or, you can be a nurse at the local hospital who was pricked with a needle, now has hepatitis and can’t work because of it. Is that an Occupational disease in Pennsylvania?
Absolutely, it’s one of what we call the enumerated occupational diseases. The firefighter with cancer, yes, again. There are enumerated cancers that might apply because you have been fighting fires and been exposed to certain solvents, fumes, paints, when that explosion occurs and you’re in the middle of it trying to put it out. So, how do you prove this to a workers’ compensation judge? Well in Pennsylvania, they had the wisdom to create what they call presumptions. If you’re in the coal fields for a number of years and you get this wretched disease, we’re going to presume it came from the coal mines. You’re not going to have to prove it beyond the reasonable doubt. If you are a nurse in the hospital. The wisdom is where do you think I got hepatitis when I have no other exposures? That prick of a needle.
So, we’re going to presume, unless the insurance company can prove otherwise, you’re going to be entitled to benefits. There are a number of these enumerated diseases under section 108. I had the honor of helping establish another right in this occupational disease area. I represented Frank Palowski many, many years ago, who worked at Latrobe Brewery. We eventually, 12 years later, we’re able to establish the concept that any illness contracted from your place of employment is considered a work-related injury. The subject is more complicated, there are medical proofs that you need.
We do this every day all day here at QuatriniRafferty. So, if you ever need that question answered, if you feel that you’re entitled to benefits because of this particular unique situation, give us a call. Free consultations at any time, we answer 24/7 by the way. So, for today, Vince signing off, wishing you a great day, until we meet again.