Does workers’ compensation cover asbestos in construction?

The construction industry is often in the news for disasters such as scaffold collapses and crane accidents, but a lesser-known industry risk could rest in the walls. Exposure to asbestos, a known carcinogen, could cause terminal cancer.

Asbestos can exist in construction materials such as drywall, insulation and cement. Illnesses related to asbestos exposure could qualify a construction worker in North Carolina for workers’ compensation benefits.

Risks of asbestos exposure in construction

Asbestos is a naturally fire-resistant mineral used in many construction and building materials in the early 1900s. However, scientists later recognized a link between asbestos exposure and serious types of cancer. Although the U.S. bans asbestos over a certain quantity in products today, working on older buildings could pose a risk of exposure.

Asbestos does not cause serious illnesses or diseases right away. Instead, it could take 10 to 40 years for the microscopic particles to cause health problems. Construction workers with mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung disease diagnoses today, therefore, could have suffered exposure decades ago.

Filing workers’ comp for asbestos exposure in NC

The workers’ compensation system in North Carolina can offer numerous financial benefits for employees with job-related injuries or illnesses. If a worker suffered exposure to asbestos on the job, and this exposure caused an illness later in life, that worker could receive workers’ compensation. The worker’s family could be eligible if asbestos caused death.

During a typical workers’ comp claim, the injured party has 30 days to report the injury to the employer. An asbestos claim, however, is an exception. The statute of limitations typically will not start until the worker discovers his or her illness.

A successful workers’ compensation claim for asbestos could give the claimant benefits to cover past and future medical expenses and two-thirds of the average weekly wages. If the worker suffers permanent organ damage, he or she could receive an additional $20,000 per organ. A workers’ comp claim could give the construction worker the financial stability he or she needs to move forward despite a serious illness.

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