Occupational diseases are what you probably think they are… a disease or illness that you have developed or contracted through your employment. Different from an occupational injury, occupational diseases/illnesses often have gradual onsets rather than one specific traumatic occurrence.
Occupational diseases can be anything from carpel tunnel syndrome, silicosis, mesothelioma, heart disease, lead poisoning and even cancers. Occupational diseases and the statutes governing them can be found in NRS 617.
Reporting requirements for occupational diseases versus occupational injuries have one significant difference. The timeline for reporting an occupational disease starts the moment “an employee or, in the event of the employee’s death,… has knowledge of the disability AND its relationship to the employee’s employment.” This means that once the employee or the employee’s dependents knows of BOTH the disease and it being caused by the employee’s work environment/occupation, they have seven (7) days to notify the employer of the disease and that it occurred at work. For example… if an employee of a painting company is diagnosed with mesothelioma and a month later the doctor finds out that the painter often worked in environments with asbestos, determining asbestos to being the cause of the mesothelioma, the employee has seven (7) days from the day the doctor made this connection to inform the employer. The timeline for reporting the claim to the insurance company also begins the moment the doctor causally connects the disease to your employment. You have 90 days from that moment to notify the insurer via filling out a C-4 form.
If you have been diagnosed with a cancer or disease that you may have been caused by your work environment or occupation, speak to your doctor about this and find out if she thinks they may be related to your job.
Showing that the occupational disease arose out of and in the course of employment is often the toughest part of showing a compensable workers’ compensation claim. The disease needs to be incidental to the character of the business and not independent of the relation of the employer and employee. The disease does not need to have been expected or foreseen but must have had its origin connected with the employment.