Autoimmune disorders can be debilitating and sometimes deadly. Statistics recently published by the American Journal of Public Health show that these disorders are now one of the top 10 causes of death among adult women below the age of 65. A McHenry worker compensation lawyer is often asked whether a disabled employee can seek benefits for an autoimmune disease. This quick guide is designed to help Illinois workers know their rights.
What is an autoimmune disease?
The immune system is an elaborate mechanism that defends the body against viruses, bacteria and other disease-causing agents. When this system works properly, it can attack germs and kill them in days, hours or even minutes. In the case of an autoimmune disease, the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues instead of external agents such as bacteria or viruses. This internal attack can lead to severe symptoms or even death. There are dozens of autoimmune diseases. One of the most commonly known is rheumatoid arthritis, in which the immune system harms the lining of the body’s joints and causes painful, disabling inflammation.
Autoimmune disease is often related to working conditions
Autoimmune disease is often a work-related illness. Unhealthy conditions at work can trigger an autoimmune disorder or make it worse. Some common factors familiar to a McHenry worker compensation lawyer include all of the following:
- Exposure to radiation
- Exposure to harmful chemicals
- Repetitive stress injury
- Incorrect ergonomic procedures
- Insufficient rest breaks
Any of these factors can lead to severe autoimmune illness, disabling workers or even ending their careers in some cases.
Benefits for disabled workers
When workers are temporarily or permanently disabled by an autoimmune disease that can be traced directly to a work situation, they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Even if a pre-existing condition is present, an employee may claim benefits if circumstances at work have made the illness worse or impeded recovery in any way.
Obligations for workers
Workers also have obligations to their employers when they claim compensation for autoimmune illness. They must determine with the help of medical professionals that the disability is work-related, and they must notify the employer promptly. Illinois state law allows an employee 45 days to make a full notification of a work-related disability.
A common and complex problem
According to the Office on Women’s Health, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, autoimmune disease affects more than 23.5 million people in America. Obtaining workers’ compensation for an autoimmune condition can be complicated. Illinois law is designed to help you get the benefits you need. If you are suffering from a work-related illness, speaking with a McHenry worker compensation lawyer might be beneficial.