In a recent South Carolina court case, it was determined that a certain workers’ compensation claim was not filed within the statute of limitations. Because it was filed late, the claim was denied, leaving the person involved with no compensation for a health condition that she believes was caused by her former employer’s workplace.
This is why our North and South Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys want to remind you that missed deadlines and other procedural errors can ruin a case.
In a previous post on our North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Blog we reported on the dangers of a dusty work environment.
In the denied claim case, the client was an employee for Respondent National Service Industries, a linen company. The client described her workplace environment as poorly ventilated, sticky and hot, with dust and lint in the air.
The client reports being exposed to bleach fumes and not wearing any personal protective equipment (mask). She started to have sinus and breathing issues in 1992. Furthermore, she indicates that she never had sinus or breathing problems in the past. She was diagnosed with a pulmonary and respiratory condition called sarcoidosis in 1995.
Patients with sarcoidosis often experience a dry cough, chest pain, trouble breathing, fever, fatigue, joint pain, headaches, rashes and itchy/watery eyes.
Because the client’s doctor did not know what caused her condition she did not pursue the case any further. Fast forward 10 years to 2005 when the client went for a second opinion. Again her doctor could not confirm that her condition was caused by her work environment, but the exposure to fumes and airborne particles did worsen her condition. The client filed a workers’ compensation claim based on this new information. The claim alleges her working conditions at the linen firm caused the damage to her respiratory system. Remember, she was diagnosed with sarcoidosis back in 1995 but had no idea it was related to her working conditions.
One commissioner found the client had sustained a compensable injury but the full commission overturned that decision. The full commission found the client’s claim was disqualified by a two-year statute of limitations.
The findings of the full commission determined that the client knew about her poorly ventilated working environment and with some investigating on her part, could have realized she had a claim earlier than her 2005 filing date. An appeal was filed but the Court of Appeals, the circuit court and the Supreme Court all affirmed the full commission’s decision.
The exact cause of sarcoidosis is unknown but possible causes include:
-An acute immune reaction to infection.
-An elevated sensitivity to environmental factors.
Earlier this year, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration press release announced the development of two documents to help both employees and employers understand the use of spirometry testing to prevent and reduce exposures to respiratory dangers in the workplace. This testing would provide early detection of breathing problems or changes to employee’s lung function.
If you or someone you know is suffering from poor air quality in the workplace, or are dealing with a workers’ compensation claim in North or South Carolina, call the workers’ compensation lawyers at Lee Law Offices, P.A. for a free initial consultation. Workplace illnesses and injuries can be life-changing, so protect your family’s financial well-being. Call 1-800-887-1965 to discuss your rights.
More Blog Entries:
North Carolina Employees Coming into Contact with Formaldehyde Can Suffer Long Term Health Effects, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, September 30, 2011.
Spirometry can Detect Respiratory Work Injuries in North Carolina, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, April 9, 2011.