Occupational illnesses in Nevada that lead to workers’ compensation claims

An occupational illness is an injury that comes from an employee's exposure to something at work that causes the injury. Nevada workers are entitled to workers' compensation benefits for occupational illnesses.

An occupational work injury:

  • has a connection between the illness and the work performed
  • is caused by employment
  • has no other cause outside of work

Certain types of exposure are considered occupational illnesses. They include:

  • poisoning
  • radiation
  • fumes
  • skin conditions
  • asbestos exposure

A pre-existing condition can be aggravated by work and is then considered an occupational injury.

An insurance company then has the burden of proving work is not a substantial cause of the injury to avoid paying benefits.

Firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical attendants are given a presumption that certain diseases are work-related.

Depending on the profession, those diseases include

  • cancer,
  • lung disease,
  • heart disease,
  • hepatitis, and
  • contagious diseases.

In this article, our Las Vegas Nevada attorneys for job-related injuries will explain:

man with a face mask to help breathing
An occupational illness is an injury that comes from an employee's exposure to something at work that causes the injury.

1. What is an occupational illness?

An occupational illness is any disease contracted primarily as a result of an exposure to risk factors arising from work activities.1

A Nevada injured worker is entitled to workers' compensation benefits for an occupational illness.2

An occupational illness differs from an accident, which is an unexpected or unforeseen event that happens suddenly and violently, with or without fault, and produces objective symptoms of an injury.3

Example: Jeremy is employed as a metal worker. Over time he is exposed to dust particles at work and develops breathing problems.

Jeremy has contracted an occupational illness due to exposure to a condition at work that caused his breathing problems.

2. When is an occupational illness a work injury?

An occupational illness is a work injury when:

  • there is a connection between the illness and the work performed
  • the employment is the cause the illness
  • the cause is not something the employee would have been exposed to outside of his or her employment4

The disease-causing condition must be part of the employee's job.5 The employee must show based on medical evidence that it was more likely than not that the occupational environment was the cause of the disease.6

A casino worker who breathes second-hand tobacco smoke and then develops breathing problems would not constitute an occupational injury because tobacco smoke is not part of the job of working in a casino. An individual can be exposed to second-hand smoke anywhere.7

Degenerative joint disease while working as a masseuse is considered an occupational injury because there is a connection between the work and the condition.8 The job of the masseuse could lead to such an injury.

Example: Eric contracts a lung disease working in a chemical processing plant. The insurance company disputes the claim.

The medical testimony of a pulmonologist finds that Eric's lung disease could only have come from chemical exposure at work.

Eric has a valid occupational injury, and the insurance company is required to provide workers' compensation benefits.

Claiming an occupational illness

An injured worker must first file a claim for a Nevada workers' compensation injury to claim an occupational injury.

Workers in any profession can claim an occupational injury, including police officers and firefighters.

An occupational injury can be a catastrophic injury.

Workers with occupational injuries can receive temporary disability, permanent disability, vocational rehabilitation, and death benefits. These benefits extend to undocumented workers, but generally not to independent contractors

3. What is considered an occupational illness in Nevada?

Certain diseases are considered occupational when the exposure occurs at work. They include:

  • poisoning from anthrax, arsenic, brass, zinc, carbon monoxide, lead, mercury, wood alcohol, sulfur dioxide
  • radiation exposure
  • cooking fumes
  • skin conditions due to contact with lubricants, liquids, or vapors9
  • silicosis from asbestos exposure10

Example: Logan was exposed to radiation at work and develops multiple myeloma. He does not have to prove the his exposure is work-related.

This is a valid occupational injury.

4. Aggravation of a condition that leads to occupational injury

An employee who has a non-work-related pre-existing condition that is aggravated by work is deemed to have an occupational injury. However, it is up to the insurance company to prove the occupational illness is not a substantial cause of the condition.11

Additionally, an employee who has an occupational illness that is aggravated by a non-work-related event is also deemed to have a work injury. It is up to the insurance company to prove the occupational disease is not a substantial cause of the condition.12

Example: Mateo has pre-existing heart disease. At his job, he is exposed to fumes that exacerbate his heart condition.

Mateo heart disease will be considered a work injury unless the insurance company can show that the substantial cause of Mateo's heart condition was due to non-work-related factors.

5. Special presumptions for certain jobs

Certain occupations are given a presumption that the injury is work-related. They are:

  • cancer, lung disease, heart disease, hepatitis, and contagious diseases for firefighters13
  • lung disease, heart disease, hepatitis, and contagious diseases for police officers14
  • hepatitis and contagious diseases for emergency medical attendants15

For these particular occupations and illnesses, there were 595 claims in 2017 in Nevada.16

6. Occupational illnesses as a category of work injury

Occupational illnesses may not be as obvious as a work injury. However, they can be very serious conditions that may require extensive medical treatment and entitle the injured worker to significant compensation.

Every employee should be aware of the conditions at his or her work in order to understand his or her rights to claim Nevada workers' compensation benefits. One can also appeal any adverse findings in the workers' compensation case and also reopen a workers compensation claim.

Call us for help...

Nevada workers compensation attorneys
Call us at 702-DEFENSE

If you or someone you care about was injured at work in Nevada, our Las Vegas workers' compensation attorneys may be able to get you compensation. (For California cases, please visit our page on occupational illnesses in California workers compensation cases.)

For a free consultation to discuss your case simply fill out the form below or call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).

Legal References:

  1. World Health Organization, Occupational and work-related diseases

  2. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.410 & § 617.430

  3. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616A.030

  4. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.440(1)

  5. Palmer v. Del Webb's High Sierra, 108 Nev. 673, 838 P.2d 435, 1992 Nev. LEXIS 137

  6. Seaman v. McKesson Corp., 109 Nev. 8, 846 P.2d 280, 1993 Nev. LEXIS 8

  7. Palmer v. Del Webb's High Sierra, 108 Nev. 673, 838 P.2d 435, 1992 Nev. LEXIS 137

  8. Desert Inn Casino & Hotel v. Moran, 106 Nev. 334, 792 P.2d 400, 1990 Nev. LEXIS 61

  9. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.445

  10. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.460

  11. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.366(1)

  12. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.366(2)

  13. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.453, §671.455, § 617.457, §617.485

  14. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.455, §617.457, §617.485

  15. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.485

  16. State of Nevada, Occupational Disease Claims Report

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