North Carolina Workers’ Compensation for Occupational Diseases: What You Need to Know

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation for Occupational Diseases: What You Need to Know

Have you been diagnosed with an occupational disease? If you live in North Carolina, and the condition is due to your employment, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation. It’s important to understand the implications of filing a workers’ compensation claim for an occupational disease—not only for what you’ll need to go through during the process but also for knowing how it can benefit you.

So what is an occupational disease? Simply put, any ailment caused by your work environment affects your ability to work. It can range from repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome to breathing in hazardous fumes or dust particles at a factory to being exposed to loud noise over a prolonged period in construction.

In North Carolina, these conditions count as workplace injuries and are eligible for workers’ compensation if they prevent you from working. Therefore, if you’ve been diagnosed with an occupational disease due to your line of work and cannot complete tasks as usual, understanding the processes involved can help protect your rights and give you access to cost-effective health coverage.

Common Types of Occupational Diseases in North Carolina

You may know that certain illnesses can be related to the workplace. If you are in North Carolina, you must be aware of workers’ compensation for occupational diseases.

Lung Diseases

Exposure to hazardous materials in the workplace can cause various respiratory illnesses, including asthma and silicosis. Additionally, workers in dusty environments are prone to developing illnesses that irritate the lungs, such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

Skin Conditions

Skin conditions such as dermatitis or skin rashes from contact with hazardous materials can result from unsafe working conditions. People who work with solvents, lubricants, acids, and other chemicals are particularly susceptible to skin-related illnesses.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Workers who do the same physical motions repeatedly over a period of time may suffer from injuries caused by repetitive motion, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis. These types of injuries often take time to develop but can put an employee out of commission if they become too severe.

It’s important to recognize that workers in different occupations have different risks associated with them when it comes to occupational diseases. Depending on the type of work you do, you may have a greater risk than others of developing a long-term illness due to exposure at your job.

Process for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim for An Occupational Disease

If you think you’ve contracted an occupational disease, the first step is to get a medical diagnosis and report it to your employer. Once that’s done, the process for filing a claim is similar to filing one for a physical injury:

doctor inspecting mesothelioma patient's X-rays
  • Fill out Form 18, Application and Agreement for Compensation which can be obtained from the NC Industrial Commission website.
  • Submit the form and any other required information (like medical diagnosis and wage loss evidence) to the Industrial Commission.
  • Your employer has ten days to accept or deny your claim; if they don’t respond, your claim will be considered accepted by default.
  • If your claim is accepted, you’ll likely receive compensation for medical expenses, compensation for lost wages (including overtime pay), vocational rehabilitation benefits, and death benefits if necessary.
  • If your claim is rejected, it’s time to request a hearing before a deputy commissioner who will look at all the evidence presented to determine what exactly happened in terms of workplace health issues and illness that should be compensated through workers’ compensation benefits.
  • You have two years from when you knew or should have known that your illness was caused by work to file an occupational disease claim; if you fail to do so within this time frame, you may forfeit your right to certain benefits under North Carolina workers’ compensation law.

Types of Compensation Available for Occupational Diseases

Did you know that you may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits in North Carolina if you have an occupational disease? Let’s take a look at the types of benefits available.

Medical Benefits

If the North Carolina Industrial Commission accepts your occupational disease, you’re entitled to medical benefits covering reasonable and necessary medical treatment and rehabilitation services. This can include physician visits, tests, hospital stays, and medications prescribed by your doctor. In some cases, vocational rehabilitation expenses may also be covered.

Wage Replacement Benefits

You may also receive wage replacement benefits if your occupational disease prevents you from working. The amount of wage replacement will depend on your average weekly wage (AWW) before becoming disabled and the type of disability you’re facing. 

You’ll receive two-thirds of the AWW up to a maximum limit the North Carolina Industrial Commission set. If your disability is temporary, you can expect to receive payments until you reach maximum medical improvement or return to work—whichever comes first.

Having an occupational disease can be very difficult, but knowing what kind of compensation you may be entitled to can help make things easier for yourself in this trying time.

Preventing Occupational Diseases in North Carolina

Most employers and employees in North Carolina need to know the importance of preventing occupational diseases. After all, any incident resulting in an occupational disease can have a major financial impact on the employer and the employee.

So what practical steps can employers and employees take to prevent occupational diseases?


It’s essential for employers to create a safe working environment for their employees. They should be aware of potential risks in the workplace and take appropriate measures, such as using protective equipment, providing safe handling instructions, organizing regular safety inspections, conducting training for safety protocols, and so on.


Employees should also take responsibility for their safety. This means following safety protocols, paying attention to warnings and instructions provided by the employer, wearing protective clothing and equipment when necessary, not taking part in any activities that could put them at risk of injury or illness, reporting any concerns or issues with their work environment immediately, etc.

By following these simple measures, employers and employees can help ensure that workplace-related diseases are avoided or minimized in North Carolina.

If you have developed an occupational illness, our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers are here to help.

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*While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call or complete the form here.


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*While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call or complete the form here.