Key Takeaways

What should you do if you suspect an occupational disease in New Jersey?

  • Seek medical attention promptly.
  • Notify your employer within 90 days.
  • Document your condition thoroughly.
  • File a workers’ compensation claim with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation.

Occupational diseases are illnesses or conditions that arise due to the nature of one’s job or workplace environment. These diseases can have a profound impact on an individual’s health, well-being, and ability to work. In New Jersey, workers suffering from occupational diseases are entitled to seek legal redress to obtain compensation for their injuries. Understanding your rights and the legal process is key to ensuring you receive the support and benefits you deserve.

Understanding Occupational Diseases

Occupational diseases differ from work-related injuries in that they typically develop over time due to prolonged exposure to harmful conditions or substances in the workplace. Common occupational diseases include:

  • Respiratory conditions: Such as asbestosis, silicosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), often resulting from exposure to dust, chemicals, or toxic fumes.
  • Skin diseases: Including dermatitis and eczema, caused by contact with irritants or allergens.
  • Hearing loss: Resulting from prolonged exposure to loud noise.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders: Like carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis, due to repetitive motion or strenuous activity.
  • Cancers: Such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, or bladder cancer, linked to exposure to carcinogenic substances like asbestos or industrial chemicals.

Legal Rights of Workers in New Jersey

In New Jersey, workers who suffer from occupational diseases are protected under the state’s workers’ compensation laws. These laws ensure that employees can receive compensation without having to prove fault or negligence on the part of their employer. The key benefits available under workers’ compensation include:

  • Medical Benefits: Coverage for all necessary and reasonable medical treatment related to the occupational disease.
  • Temporary Disability Benefits: Payments to replace lost wages if the worker is unable to work for more than seven days.
  • Permanent Disability Benefits: Compensation for workers who suffer a permanent impairment that affects their ability to work.
  • Death Benefits: Provided to the dependents of workers who die as a result of an occupational disease.

Steps to Take if You Have an Occupational Disease

If you suspect that you have developed an occupational disease, it is important to take the following steps:

  • Seek Medical Attention: Obtain a medical diagnosis as soon as possible. Prompt treatment can improve your prognosis and strengthen your workers’ compensation claim.
  • Notify Your Employer: Report your condition to your employer immediately. In New Jersey, you are required to notify your employer within 90 days of discovering the disease.
  • Document Your Condition: Keep detailed records of your symptoms, medical visits, and any communications with your employer about your condition.
  • File a Workers’ Compensation Claim: Submit a claim with the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation. This initiates the process of securing benefits.

Challenges in Occupational Disease Claims

Occupational disease claims can be complex due to the nature of these conditions. Unlike a sudden injury, the gradual onset of an occupational disease can make it difficult to establish a direct link to the workplace. Common challenges include:

  • Latency Periods: Some diseases, like mesothelioma, may take years or even decades to develop after exposure.
  • Proof of Exposure: Demonstrating that the disease was caused by workplace conditions can require substantial evidence, including medical records, expert testimony, and workplace exposure data.
  • Pre-Existing Conditions: Employers or insurance companies may argue that the disease is related to a pre-existing condition rather than workplace exposure.

The Role of an Experienced Attorney

Navigating an occupational disease claim can be daunting. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can provide invaluable assistance by:

  • Gathering Evidence: Collecting medical records, expert opinions, and other necessary documentation to support your claim.
  • Filing Paperwork: Ensuring all required forms and documentation are submitted correctly and on time.
  • Negotiating with Insurers: Handling communications and negotiations with insurance companies to secure fair compensation.
  • Representing You in Hearings: Advocating on your behalf in workers’ compensation hearings or appeals if necessary.


Occupational diseases can significantly impact your life and livelihood. If you are suffering from a condition that you believe is related to your job, it is imperative that you understand your legal rights and options. In New Jersey, workers’ compensation laws are designed to protect employees and provide the necessary support during difficult times. However, the process can be complex and challenging. Consulting with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can ensure that you navigate the system effectively and secure the benefits you deserve.

If you or a loved one is dealing with an occupational disease, do not hesitate to seek legal help. A knowledgeable attorney can guide you through every step of the process, from filing your claim to representing you in court if necessary. Your health and well-being are paramount, and obtaining the proper legal support can make a significant difference in your recovery and future.

By staying informed and seeking professional legal assistance, you can protect your rights and ensure that you receive the compensation and care you need to manage your occupational disease.


Occupational diseases are illnesses or conditions that develop due to prolonged exposure to harmful conditions or substances in the workplace. Examples include respiratory conditions, skin diseases, hearing loss, musculoskeletal disorders, and cancers.

Workers in New Jersey may receive medical benefits, temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, and death benefits for occupational diseases.

If you suspect an occupational disease, seek medical attention immediately, notify your employer within 90 days, document your condition, and file a workers’ compensation claim.

Challenges include proving the disease’s link to the workplace, dealing with latency periods, and addressing pre-existing conditions that employers might use to deny the claim.

An experienced attorney can gather necessary evidence, file paperwork correctly, negotiate with insurers, and represent you in hearings to ensure you receive fair compensation.