20 Dec Diseases and Workers’ Comp Gets Some Clarity
What qualifies as a workers’ comp claim is ever-evolving and varies state to state. At Bloom Law Office, attorneys keep up to date with the latest developments around the country, and a big one stems from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. After a firefighter filed for workers’ comp claiming he got cancer from his exposure to carcinogens on the job, it was decided that occupational diseases within workers’ compensation claims demanded a closer look.
Scott Sladek didn’t prove that his cancer was a direct result of working as a Philadelphia firefighter—at least according to the original ruling by the Commonwealth Court. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overruled that decision in October 2018. Justice Christine Donohue declared that workers’ comp statutes do allow for epidemiological evidence. “The provision only requires the claimant to establish a general causative link between the claimant’s type of cancer and Group 1 carcinogen,” she wrote in a formal statement. “It does not require the claimant to prove that the identified Group 1 carcinogen actually caused the claimant’s cancer.”
It was a big move for Pennsylvania. The firefighting field can be especially tricky. However, Donohue said, “Epidemiological evidence is clearly relevant and useful in demonstrating general causation. Epidemiology deals with, inter alia, the identification of potentially causative associations in various populations between possible causative agents and the resulting incident of particular diseases and seeks to generalize those results.”
Three justices agreed with Donohue, and Chief Justice Thomas Saylor ultimately dissented to the case. However, he also says more proceedings will be necessary. Saylor said that while he won’t “dilute” the holding that suggests the type of cancer may have been caused by Group 1 carcinogens, he wasn’t alone in questioning whether an expert epidemiologist testimony should be suitable for all future claims.
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Still, it was a successful day for Pennsylvania firefighters. Their attorney said, “The Supreme Court’s decision provided a fairer standard for firefighters diagnosed with cancer to pursue compensation.” If you believe your illness was caused by your work environment, call Bloom Law Office today at 855-208-3650 for a complimentary workers’ comp consultation.