Workers’ Compensation for Mesothelioma Patients
Patients with mesothelioma may be eligible for workers’ compensation if they were exposed to asbestos at work. Because mesothelioma is usually diagnosed after the time allowed by most states to file a workers’ compensation claim, this makes it difficult to prove asbestos exposure at work.
Workers’ compensation benefits for mesothelioma patients
Workers’ compensation can help patients and families financially. This includes help with mesothelioma treatment costs and loss of income.
Patients seeking specialized treatment often have to pay travel, lodging and other related expenses. Workers’ compensation can help cover these bills. For some patients, workers’ compensation may be the only compensation option.
Workers’ compensation can help patients recover lost income by providing them with disability payments. Disability payments are also known as replacement income. Replacement income can be temporary or permanent. Individuals may be eligible for weekly payments or a larger lump sum.
Workers Compensation Vs. Mesothelioma Lawsuit
Filing a claim with the state or federal workers’ compensation system is a legal option for some people who were exposed to asbestos at work. These systems can be difficult to navigate. Many workers’ comp claims result in only modest amounts of financial relief, but they have served as a source of compensation for asbestos victims.
More common legal options for asbestos exposure compensation include a mesothelioma lawsuit or an asbestos trust fund claim. A KCIC industry report shows that 3,685 lawsuits were filed over occupational asbestos exposure in 2020.
If you are considering filing a workers compensation claim for asbestos exposure or an asbestos lawsuit you should contact a qualified mesothelioma attorney. Filing a workers’ compensation claim with an employer and filing a lawsuit against an asbestos manufacturer involve different processes, time periods, and different potential financial compensation outcomes. It is important to understand the nuances of each legal option before deciding which legal option to choose.
What is workers compensation?
Workers’ compensation programs provide compensation to employees for injuries sustained on the job. Every state has a workers’ compensation program. These programs provide various benefits to injured employees.
Potential workers’ compensation benefits include:
- Medical care
- Temporary or permanent disability payments (replacement income)
- Assistance in finding another job (vocational rehabilitation) if appropriate
Laws vary by state, and workers’ compensation programs are administered by state boards. Payments usually consist of a fixed amount of compensation. The amount of compensation is usually determined by state law and based on the type of injury.
Replacement income provides only partial compensation for lost income and is usually subject to certain limitations.
Eligibility for asbestos workers’ compensation
Workers’ compensation eligibility requirements vary by state. Generally, states apply four basic eligibility requirements to claimants:
- Must be an employee
- Employers must have workers’ compensation insurance
- The injury or illness must be work related
- State deadlines must be met to report an injury and file a claim
An injured employee is generally required to report any work-related injuries to the employer in writing. The employer must then provide the claim form to the worker. Families of deceased workers may also be eligible to apply for benefits. The employer is responsible for submitting the form to the local board office and its insurance company.
Navy veterans who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses can file claims with the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Program. The same four basic eligibility requirements that apply to general workers’ compensation claims also apply to the Longshore Program.
How an attorney can help with workers’ compensation
A qualified attorney can help you advance your workers’ compensation claim and improve your chances of receiving compensation. They will gather evidence to support your claim, plan strategies in case your claim is disputed, and represent you at hearings.
If your claim is disputed, an experienced attorney can represent you before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. A mesothelioma attorney has the expertise to handle your workers’ compensation claims and other legal claims for mesothelioma compensation for which you may be eligible.
Workers’ comp claims have strict time limits
Like lawsuits, workers’ compensation claims must be filed within an established time frame after an injury occurs. Each state has its own guidelines that determine eligibility.
Although most cases of mesothelioma are caused by occupational exposure to asbestos, not all people with mesothelioma are eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim. Because of its long latency period, mesothelioma is usually not diagnosed within the time frame allotted for workers’ compensation claims.
Additionally, most former workers diagnosed with mesothelioma are no longer employed at the job where they were exposed. Asbestosis patients may be more likely to qualify for this option because the disease has a shorter latency period of about 10 years compared to 20 to 50 years for mesothelioma.
Lawsuits can provide a wide range of compensation
The amount of compensation available through a workers’ compensation claim is often modest compared to the larger compensation typically available through a potential lawsuit or trust fund claim. State laws generally set the maximum amount of workers’ compensation available for a particular injury.
The workers’ compensation process is non-adversarial, meaning that claims are not designed to assign fault, and punitive damages and certain other forms of compensation are unavailable. On the other hand, jury verdict awards may include punitive damages and compensation for pain and suffering. Accordingly, a successful lawsuit can significantly increase the total amount of compensation you may receive, even if your lawsuit is settled out of court.
Workers’ compensation claims are often disputed
Individual circumstances influence the outcome of a workers’ compensation claim. Merely filing a claim does not guarantee financial benefits.
If a dispute arises with your claim or you are unhappy with the outcome of your workers’ compensation hearing, you can file an appeal with the state workers’ compensation commissioner or the Court of Appeals.
Other asbestos compensation and financial assistance is available through the Asbestos Trust Fund, government disability programs, and the Veterans Administration. Consult a qualified mesothelioma law firm for legal advice.
Issues with workers’ compensation
Although workers’ compensation laws were designed to provide benefits to eligible employees, they were also designed to protect employers from lawsuits by placing limits on compensation.
The federal government and a handful of states rely on government sources to fund workers’ compensation claims. Most states fund their compensation budgets through the private sector or through private insurance carriers, which compete with state-run funds.
Due to significant losses in underwriting, private insurance carriers have reduced the scope of workers’ compensation programs over the past two decades. Some states have increased private competition to reduce program costs for employers.
What is workers compensation?
Workers’ Compensation (WC) is a widely adopted social insurance program in the United States. It is the oldest insurance program of its kind, dating back to 1911 when Wisconsin passed the first comprehensive WC law. Mississippi was the last state to pass a WC law in 1948. Now, all states have their own programs.
The Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) is administered by the US Department of Labor through the Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP). FECA provides benefits to civilian employees in the United States. Its purpose is to compensate federal employees who have been disabled by an occupational injury.
Filing a mesothelioma workers compensation claim
Since each state has its own workers’ compensation program, the filing process may differ by location. However, there are similar legal and eligibility requirements between each state. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can confirm the requirements on a state-by-state basis.
An injured employee is required to report work-related injuries to the employer. After reporting the injury in writing, the employer will provide the worker with a claim form. Finally, the employer submits the form to the local board office and its insurance company.
Similar to filing a lawsuit, each state has a different time frame within which a worker’s compensation claim can be filed. To ensure the procedure is done correctly, consult a mesothelioma lawyer.
Employer’s Legal Role in Compensation
Workers’ compensation laws were created in each state to provide benefits to eligible employees injured on the job. However, these laws also protect employers from lawsuits. Furthermore, WC cases are not designed to assign blame to responsible parties.
WC does not cover all indirect costs. Victims who cannot work have to pay for things not covered by WC. Additionally, WC does not cover any “pain and suffering” damages such as mental anguish.
Most states fund compensation budgets through private insurance carriers. As many asbestos-related compensation claims have occurred, private carriers have favored cutting WC programs. This includes reducing the amount of money an employee receives.
What should injured workers do now?
Before workers’ compensation, injured workers could sue employers, but awards were unpredictable and laws generally favored employers. WC laws eliminate the right to sue but guarantee quick, reliable benefits after an injury claim.
Workers’ compensation insurance is funded entirely by employers. In addition to WC, employees may also sue third parties who may be liable for their work injuries. However, the proceeds from this suit reimburse the employer’s insurance carrier. For more information on related mesothelioma and asbestos related inquiries, contact us for a free case response.