What truck drivers need to know about diesel exhaust health effects and workers’ compensation benefits.
This blog post is dedicated to truck drivers who suffer from diesel exhaust health effects. It is a problem that does not get much attention. Understanding legal rights is the key to getting medical treatment and lost wages paid under workers’ compensation. Here are some problems that we see and how to make sure workers’ compensation benefits are protected.
Negative health effects from breathing diesel fumes and exhaust is still an evolving science. Truck drivers can experience both short-term and long-term effects. This includes irritated eyes, throat and lungs, lightheadedness or dizziness, shortness of breath, headaches, chest pain, nausea, kidney damage, and even cancer. It can also make underlying health problems such as emphysema, asthma, or allergies significantly worse.
Unfortunately, truck drivers who develop occupational diseases caused by exposure to diesel fumes and exhaust are not always covered under workers’ compensation. These disabled employees are being told they have chronic problems unrelated to their jobs. Disputes usually arise after an employee has been sent for a so-called “independent” medical examination. The burden of proof can be extremely difficult for truck drivers who have preexisting medical conditions. It must be shown that exposure to diesel fumes and exhaust caused either new pathology or aggravated a condition in a significant manner.
What types of workers’ compensation benefits are covered?
Michigan law requires payment of all reasonable medical treatment without any co-pays or deductibles to the employee. This includes doctor visits and hospitalizations. Breathing treatments and inhalers should also be paid. Medications should be covered 100% under workers’ compensation. The right to medical treatment continues indefinitely.
Truck drivers who are unable to work are also entitled to lost wages. The amount paid should equal 80% of their after-tax average weekly wage subject to a state-wide maximum. Discounted fringe benefits, such as health insurance, should be included in this calculation. Bonus money and even second jobs can be used to increase the amount paid.
How long do I have to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits?
Employees must give notice of injury within ninety days and make a claim within two years. This can be done verbally so simply telling an employer about medical problems and asking for workers’ compensation benefits is enough. It is possible to make a claim years after diesel exhaust health effects show up. However, a disabled employee will be limited by the one and two year back rules.
What happens if the employer refuses to pay workers’ compensation benefits?
Truck drivers who are suffering from diesel exhaust health effects can file an Application for Mediation or Hearing (Form WC-104A). This starts a case where medical evidence can be presented showing diesel exhaust health effects are indeed related to employment. A magistrate will then issue an order approving or denying payment of workers’ compensation benefits. Make sure to have an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer on your side to ensure legal rights are protected.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 316-8033 for a free consultation today.