Occupational Diseases vs. Occupational Injuries – Understanding The Difference

by James M. Hoffmann on Feb. 26, 2021

Employment Workers' Compensation Employment  Occupational Safety & Health Accident & Injury 

Summary: When it comes to filing a workers’ compensation claim in Missouri, it’s important to understand the difference between an occupational disease and an occupational injury.

Let's discuss the basics of occupational diseases and injuries, how they differ, and why it matters.


What Is An Occupational Injury?

An occupational injury is an injury that is caused by some specific accident or incident at your work. For example, about 27% of all occupational injuries involve lower back pain. If you lift a weighty box as part of your work duties and your back is strained or damaged, which causes you pain, that’s an example of an occupational injury.


Another example of an occupational injury would be operating a piece of heavy machinery and suffered a cut or damage to your body, such as a crushed or lost finger. 


Typically, it will be obvious when you have suffered an occupational injury, and you will be required to report it to your employer. You should file a workers’ compensation claim ASAP after the incident. 


What Is An Occupational Disease?

An occupational disease is a little bit different than an injury. These issues are usually caused by harmful exposure to certain workplace conditions. For example, if you are exposed to a loud workplace environment with inadequate ear protection for a long time, which results in hearing loss, this would be an example of an occupational disease.


If you work in an office and type all day and develop carpal tunnel or tendonitis in your hands or twists, this would be another example of an occupational disease.


Unlike an occupational injury, occupational diseases are generally not caused by a single incident but by repeated exposure to certain working conditions resulting in the disease or health issue in question.


Both Occupational Diseases & Occupational Injuries Can Qualify You For Workers’ Comp

Whether you have an occupational injury or a longer-term occupational disease, you may qualify for workers’ compensation coverage in St. Louis. Both acute injuries and long-term diseases require your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company to pay out for your lost wages, cost of medical care, and more.


However, since occupational diseases occur over a longer period of time, it may be a bit harder to prove that the disease is work-related. You will likely need to see a physician, prove that your work conditions caused the disease, and take other such steps to verify your condition and file a claim. 


Get Help With Your Occupational Injury Or Occupational Disease Claim In St. Louis

At The Law Office Of James M. Hoffmann, our St. Louis workers' compensation attorneys have collected over $50 Million on behalf of injury victims in Missouri. If you need assistance filing a claim or settling a dispute related to your occupational injury or occupational disease, contact us for a no-commitment case review, and see how we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us 24/7 at (314) 361-4300.

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