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Occupational disease and Minnesota workers' compensation

When most people think of workers' compensation, they think about having an accident at work that requires them to go to the doctor. The Minnesota program covers much more, however. People who contract certain types of work-related illnesses and diseases due to exposure to certain substances may also be eligible to file a workers' compensation claim.

Minnesota law specifies that diseases that can be traced back to the worker's employment may be covered. Ordinary diseases that the general public have an equal chance of contracting are not covered by the law unless the disease is also a specific occupational hazard. Mental impairment is also covered unless the impairment was a result of a disciplinary action.

The employment must be proven to have a direct causal relationship with the subsequent disease. Repetitive physical activities that result in disease or illness are coverable. Employers are not liable for any disease that the employee is unable to trace to his or her employment as a direct and proximate cause.

People contract occupational diseases due to their work environment every year, including illnesses contracted due to exposure to chemicals, toxins and other hazards with which they work. Common types of occupational diseases include such things as carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries. People who have an illness or a disease that was directly caused by the particular work in which they were engaged may be able to seek compensation for the costs associated with the treatment of their disease as well as for lost wages by filing a workers' compensation claim. Since the employee will need to be able to trace the disease back to his or her job and prove a direct causal relationship, it will be important to gather all medical documentation and be able to present the evidence effectively.

Source: The office of the Revisor of Statutes, "Subd. 15.Occupational disease.", November 12, 2014

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