Latent Disability Claims

Atlanta Attorney Devoted to Assisting Injured Workers

For most injured employees, applying for workers’ compensation in a timely manner is straightforward if they follow the rules and seek the advice of a knowledgeable attorney. However, in certain circumstances, the full effects of a job-related incident may not be readily apparent, and they may instead develop slowly over time. Some individuals may be concerned about when their claims for latent disabilities can be brought. Workers’ compensation lawyer Julie A. Rice has substantial experience helping Atlanta employees seek the benefits that they deserve. She can be reached at (770) 865-8654 and (813) 363-6664, or through our online contact form.

Latent Disabilities and Workers’ Compensation

Latent disabilities are injuries or disorders that are not immediately apparent to a victim. Unlike a broken bone or concussion, they may not develop until months or years after a worker has sustained the precipitating event. One common type of latent disability is a disease that arises out of exposure to certain chemicals or conditions in the workplace. Thus, for instance, an employee who is unknowingly exposed to dangerous chemicals may later develop a disabling form of cancer. Similarly, a worker who is subjected to difficult physical duties may find down the road that he or she has developed severe joint problems or arthritis.

Under Georgia law, individuals have one year from the date of an injury or accident to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. This is known as the “statute of limitations” on these claims, and after this one-year period, most claims are barred. For this reason, workers are encouraged to file their claims as quickly as possible. However, if you are the victim of a latent disability, you may find that you were simply unaware of your illness or condition until long after your accident or exposure occurred, or that doctors did not initially anticipate the disability that you experienced. In these circumstances, a special exception to the statute of limitations likely applies. You would be required to file your claim within one year of when you learned of, or should have learned of, your disability. This provides some flexibility for claimants whose injuries are not immediately apparent.

Latent disabilities are also an important reason to carefully consider whether a lump sum settlement for a workers’ compensation claim is in your best interest. Although receiving a large payment from an insurer may seem appealing in the short term, it can leave you without further payment or coverage if a latent disability later arises. If you or your doctor believes that your medical condition puts you at risk for further disability down the road, this is something you should discuss with an attorney.

Discuss your Work Injury Claim with an Atlanta Lawyer

As a knowledgeable work injury attorney who has helped many individuals in Atlanta and beyond, Julie A. Rice understands that not everyone will experience harm that is sudden and obvious. For some people, the harsh consequences of their workplace environment will develop over time but will leave them equally as affected as those who were the victim of catastrophic accidents. For this reason, Julie A. Rice works closely with workers who are battling latent disabilities to carefully consider the timelines for their claim and its potential effects on benefits down the road. If you are considering filing a workers’ compensation claim, contact us at (770) 865-8654 and (813) 363-6664, or online. We serve employees in communities throughout Fulton, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb, and DeKalb Counties, including Marietta, Decatur, and Lawrenceville.