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Illnesses That May Be Covered by Workers’ Compensation

Posted on March 8, 2024 in Workers' Compensation

The workers’ compensation program in California is designed to pay for injuries and illnesses that arise within the course and scope of an individual’s employment. If an employee gets hurt or develops an illness through his or her job, financial coverage is available for medical bills, lost wages and other related damages. Various occupational illnesses are covered in addition to workplace injuries.


Certain infectious diseases that are contracted in the workplace are covered by workers’ compensation. This includes infection with SARS-CoV-2, better known as COVID-19 or the coronavirus. If a worker is exposed to COVID-19 at his or her job and contracts this illness, workers’ compensation benefits are available under California law

Workers’ comp is available for a case of COVID-19 without requiring the worker to prove that his or her employer was negligent or did not meet the required standards of care in preventing this disease from spreading at the workplace. However, the worker must show that he or she contracted the illness at work or within the scope of employment (making it an occupational disease).

Asbestos-Related Conditions

Jobs that involve asbestos must enforce numerous precautions to prevent workers from being exposed to this harmful group of minerals. Asbestos is directly connected to several serious diseases, including an aggressive and terminal form of cancer known as mesothelioma. Asbestosis and lung cancer are also caused by exposure to asbestos. 

 If an employee gets exposed to asbestos and later develops a related condition, he or she may qualify for workers’ compensation for medical bills, disability and lost wages. If a worker dies from an asbestos-related illness, his or her beneficiaries may receive death benefits through workers’ comp, as well.

Asthma or Lung Disease

Exposure to toxic or dangerous substances at work can be harmful, especially if exposure occurs on a regular basis. Breathing in hazardous chemicals or dust, for example, can cause respiratory conditions and long-term health problems, including occupational asthma, lung disease and black lung. Black lung, or coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, is specifically caused by the inhalation of coal dust. It mainly affects coal miners who are exposed to airborne particles of coal and silica on the job. 


A worker could suffer harmful exposure to hepatitis, AIDS and HIV in the workplace if he or she comes into contact with someone else’s blood or bodily fluids. This is especially common in health care settings and emergency response occupations. These are serious viral infections that can have a significant, irreversible impact on a victim. Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and masks can help prevent the transmission of these diseases.

Meeting the Work-Related Requirement for a Claim

If you wish to file a workers’ compensation claim for an illness, you will need to establish that you contracted it at work. The illness must be a result of on-the-job exposure. Evidence proving this may include employment records, documents detailing how an employer has – or has not – dealt with exposure risks, and medical records. 

Establishing proof for your workers’ comp claim can be difficult, especially if you are seeking compensation for an “ordinary disease of life” and not a rarer type of illness. You may need assistance from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Los Angeles to help you file and establish your claim. Contact Rose, Klein & Marias LLP at (866) 674-5150 for a free case review to learn more.