Workers’ Compensation for COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most common and debilitating lung conditions. This disease, which develops and worsens over time, can be caused by poor air quality in the workplace. In fact, about 20 percent of the total COPD cases in the United States begin at work.
Development of COPD
COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that restricts airflow from the lungs. It takes two primary forms: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema results in the destruction of the lungs over time, impairing airflow due to the collapse of small airways. With chronic bronchitis, bronchial tubes narrow and become inflamed, while the lungs develop excess mucus. This mucus further blocks narrow airways, leading to a chronic cough.
COPD Causes and Symptoms
Long-term workplace exposure to occupational pollutants, such as cadmium, asbestos, or silica, is a leading cause of COPD. These dusts and vapors can inflame and irritate the lungs over a long period of time. Tragically, COPD victims frequently aren’t diagnosed until serious lung damage has already occurred, when interventions are less effective. Symptoms of COPD may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Increased risk of respiratory infections
- A chronic cough
- Swelling of the ankles, feet, or legs
- Excess mucus in the lungs
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Some employees assume that workers’ compensation benefits are only available to individuals injured in a job-related accident. However, these benefits are also available to employees who develop occupational diseases.
If you’ve been diagnosed with COPD due to exposure to pollutants on the job, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Since this disease can develop slowly over time, you’ll need clear and convincing proof that your work environment led to your ailments. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can gather the evidence you need to help you receive the compensation you deserve.
To discuss your claim, contact the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., by using the form on this page.