In Nevada, an occupational illness is an injury that comes from you being exposed to something at work. You 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
Common occupational illnesses covered by Nevada workers’ compensation are:
- contact dermatitis
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- HIV / AIDS
- lead poisoning
- radiation sickness
A Nevada 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 your 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
- lung disease,
- heart disease,
- hepatitis, and
- contagious diseases.
In this article, our Las Vegas Nevada workers’ comp attorneys will explain:
- 1. What is an occupational illness?
- 2. When is an occupational illness a work injury?
- 3. What is considered an occupational illness in Nevada?
- 4. Aggravation of a condition that leads to occupational injury
- 5. Special situations for certain jobs
- 6. Occupational illnesses as a category of work injury
1. What is an occupational illness?
An occupational illness is any disease contracted primarily as a result of exposure to risk factors arising from work activities.1
In Nevada, you are 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
- your employment is the cause of the illness
- the cause is not something you would have been exposed to outside of your employment4
The disease-causing condition must be part of your job.5 You 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
You 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.
You 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
If you have a non-work-related pre-existing condition that is aggravated by work, it is deemed to be an occupational injury. However, it is up to the insurance company to prove the occupational injury is not a substantial cause of the condition.11
Additionally, if you have an occupational illness that is aggravated by a non-work-related event, it is also deemed to be 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 you to significant compensation.
You should be aware of the conditions at your work in order to understand your rights to claim Nevada workers’ compensation benefits. You can also appeal any adverse findings in the workers’ compensation case and also reopen a workers compensation claim.
Call us for help…
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.
- World Health Organization, occupational and work-related diseases.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.410 & §617.430.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616A.030.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.440(1).
- Palmer v. Del Webb’s High Sierra, 108 Nev. 673, 838 P.2d 435.
- Seaman v. McKesson Corp., (1993) 109 Nev. 8, 846 P.2d 280.
- Palmer v. Del Webb’s High Sierra, (1992) 108 Nev. 673, 838 P.2d 435.
- Desert Inn Casino & Hotel v. Moran, (1990) 106 Nev. 334, 792 P.2d 400.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.445.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.460.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.366(1).
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.366(2).
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.453, §671.455, §617.457, §617.485.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.455, §617.457, §617.485.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 617.485.
- State of Nevada, Occupational Disease Claims Report.