Individuals who develop a serious disease after exposure at work may be eligible for workers’ compensation. Medical professionals, grocery store workers and other employees who have frequent contact with the public are at higher risk for infectious illness. 

Learn more about applying for workers’ compensation in Minnesota after contracting a debilitating disease that results in medical expenses and lost wages. 

Establishing causation 

Workers’ compensation does not require the applicant to establish fault on behalf of her or his employer. However, the applicant must prove a clear link between occupational exposure and his or her disease diagnosis. For example, a person diagnosed with asbestosis would provide a work history with a high risk for asbestos exposure. Chemical, toxin and biological exposures may play a role in serious occupational illness. 

You cannot claim workers’ compensation for exposures to which the public has an equal risk. The exposure must be unique to your workplace or industry. 

Seeking medical care 

Minnesota allows ill and injured employees to visit their own doctors for workers’ compensation purposes. However, the employer can require an employee to stay in the network of his or her managed care plan and/or use a specific pharmacy network. Employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement may have to choose from a list of union health care providers. 

Understanding types of benefits 

Minnesota state law establishes three types of workers’ compensation benefits: 

  • Medical treatment and supplies associated with the illness, including primary and specialty care 
  • Vocational rehabilitation if you can return to work in a different role, but need training to do so 
  • Disability benefits that cover lost wages when you are out of work, including temporary total disability benefits, temporary partial disability benefits, permanent partial disability and permanent total disability 

If you become ill and your doctor says the disease could have a link to your occupation, alert your employer right away. The company must report the illness to its workers’ compensation insurance provider. An adjuster from the insurance company will evaluate your case.