Let us say you have worked at a paper mill here in Georgia for almost 20 years and have developed asthma. This condition has evolved because of your work environment. Are you covered by workers’ compensation?

An unhealthy environment

Air pollution is an ongoing concern at worksites like gas stations, chemical plants, airports and paper mills. Although the company you work for continues to use new technologies that mitigate the effects of the daily production of paper, you suffered exposure to poor air quality caused by traditional processes like pulping and bleaching. Air contaminants can also invade offices and other inside working environments and contribute to headaches and irritation to the eyes, throat and lungs. Although you can receive treatment for asthma, you may have to seek another type of job if you experience breathing difficulties on a daily basis.

Your rights

You may think workers’ compensation applies only to work-related accidents that result in broken bones or injuries to the head, neck, back or limbs. However, as a job-related condition that develops over time, asthma is also covered. As an employee who works in Georgia, workers’ comp covers you for medical benefits as well as loss of wages. In fact, you may receive disability income if asthma prevents you from working at the paper mill or if you take another job for which you earn less money.

Following up

You have latent symptoms of asthma, meaning this was a slow-developing condition because of your exposure to poor air quality at the paper mill. In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, you may consider filing a lawsuit against the paper mill. You can also sue your physician if s/he did not diagnose your condition correctly. Explore your legal options, but be aware that there is a time limit to filing a workers’ compensation claim.