When most employees think about workers compensation insurance, they envision its protection in case there's an accident. However, sudden accidents aren't the only time you may need to claim workers compensation. It may happen due to a long-term illness.  

What kinds of illnesses are included in workers comp? And what challenges do you face in getting compensation? Here's what every employee needs to know. 

What Chronic Conditions Are Covered?

Any long-term, or chronic, condition that was caused by something that occurred during your regular course of employment can be a covered claim. Some of the most common situations are chemical exposures at work, both over time and in a single incident. Chemical, radiation, and other exposure may or may not cause immediate damage — but it can cause recurring harm.

You may be able to seek coverage for repetitive stress injuries due to performing the same tasks for years, hearing or vision loss caused by work conditions, or even stress-related disorders. 

What Challenges Do You Face?

Claiming workers compensation can be relatively easy when an obvious accident happens. But chronic ailment sufferers face two unique challenges.

The first is the time limit normally imposed on workers comp claims. States impose limits on how long you can wait before notifying your employer and before filing a claim. However, you can argue for an exception to these limits if you had no knowledge of — or could not reasonably have known — that your current ailment stemmed from a work-related situation. 

The second hurdle is proving that the condition was caused by your employment for that employer. This makes cases related to stress, for example, particularly difficult. Stress comes from many sources, so it may not be easy to directly link it specifically to your job. However, a first responder with few other sources of stress may be able to do so. 

Third, you may need to reopen an old workers compensation claim. For instance, a bank teller who was injured in a robbery may have their wounds treated and receive some mental health assistance. However, they may develop post-traumatic stress disorder later or their old injury may create some other medical issue years down the line. Now you must navigate coordinating these two cases. 

Where Can You Get Help?

If you suspect that your chronic condition may be linked to a work-related issue from your past, start by getting legal help opening (or reopening) your case. Meet with a workers compensation lawyer in your state to learn how they can assist. 

Contact a workers comp law firm like Neifert Byrne & Ozga to learn more.