NEPA Workers Comp Lawyers- Occupational Disease Exposure Question

Date: March 15, 2012

Question: I worked for the same company for over 20 years. My work involved cleaning machinery with all kinds of chemicals. I began experiencing breathing problems a few months after I retired. My wife thinks that my breathing problems are caused by the chemicals I used at work. Do I have a case? L.R., Olyphant, Pa.

Answer: As with any case, you would need medical evidence- a competent opinion from a qualified medical expert- which indicates that your current problems were either caused or aggravated by some type of exposure in the workplace. You would also need to identify the specific chemicals or substances that are causing your breathing issues.

There are also certain time deadlines that apply is cases like yours that involve what are referred to as occupational diseases. The time for giving notice of an occupational disease begins to run upon the conjunction of the following five factors; (a) knowledge (actual or constructive) (b) of a disability (c) in existence (d) resulting from an occupational disease (e) as well as having a possible relationship to the employment.  The time period for giving notice does not begin to run until the employee has stopped working since an employee cannot be disabled if still employed. In occupational disease cases, the “disability” must occur within 300 weeks from the date of last employment in an occupation in which you had exposure to a hazard, and a petition must be filed no later than three years from the date of injury/disability.

If you’ve suffered a work injury and have questions about your claim, contact me at or call (570) 347-1011 for a free consultation.

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive.  Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column. 


Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.