Is Your Autoimmune Disorder Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

When a Texas job environment contributes to an illness such as an autoimmune disorder, a worker may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

Many people in Texas may associate workers' compensation benefits with a sudden trauma such as a fall or a machinery accident. However, some work-related medical issues may occur as a result of long-term exposure to an unhealthy situation. According to the Hospital for Special Surgery, many autoimmune disorders are exacerbated by exposure to environmental factors, and some may even be caused by them.

Linking Health Conditions and Employment

Researchers indicate that certain diseases and substances have been linked, although causation is often difficult to prove. There is evidence in some cases, though. For example, some autoimmune processes may be caused by mercury. Similarly, certain solvents and silica dust are associated with the autoimmune disease systemic sclerosis. People who are exposed to bacteria, parasites or viruses on the job may be at risk for infections that may affect their immune system and lead to the inflammation that triggers the autoimmune process.

According to Cedars-Sinai, a nonprofit academic medical center, many rheumatic conditions or worsening effects may be connected to a work station. For example, conditions that require workers to strain joints such as their wrists, may lead to issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis. In many cases, a doctor may be able to determine whether the job situation is related to the health problem.

Reporting Workplace Illnesses and Injuries

The Texas Workforce Commission states that a worker only has 30 days to file a report after sustaining an injury. However, when an illness or injury such as an autoimmune disorder is not connected to the workplace at first, it is not necessarily disqualified by the deadline. For these conditions, the employee has 30 days after the date when it became apparent that the medical issue is work related. Once the employee has shown that the health problem was caused or worsened by the job, there is no need to prove that the employer was negligent or careless because workers' compensation is a no-fault system.

Recovering Compensation

Companies in Texas do not have to carry workers' compensation insurance. An employee whose employer does not have coverage may file a personal injury claim in an attempt to recover compensation for the damages. An employer must provide notification of whether the company offers workers' compensation benefits.

An employee who finds that his or her workers' compensation claim has been denied may be exposed to significant hardship because of the negative health effects of the autoimmune disorder. Many workers decide to hire a workers' compensation attorney who is familiar with the federal and state laws and may be able to provide legal advice about how to proceed.