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So, You Have Skin Cancer...Is Workers' Compensation A Possibility?

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Some people tend to think that working outdoors can be healthier than working indoors. After all, you are getting exercise and fresh air when you're working outside. Inside, you may be enjoying the cool or warm air depending on the season, but you are likely sitting in a chair all day and staring blankly at a computer. However, working outdoors, especially for an extended period of time, can be dangerous. One of the common things that workers endure is skin cancer. When this happens, people wonder if workers' compensation is a possibility. Read on to learn more about skin cancer and its effect on workers' comp benefits.

About Skin Cancer

In the United States, skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. Abnormal skin cells can grow at an uncontrolled rate and create tumors due to prolonged exposure to UV rays from the sun. There are three types of skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. The last two account for nearly 95 percent of all cases of skin cancers and are considered less serious. When treated early, they're curable. However, melanoma accounts for 75 percent of all skin cancer-related deaths. It is the most serious and can even spread to your body's other organs when left untreated.

About Workers' Compensation

Workers' compensation is often obtained by employees who are injured on the job. When you think of an injury, you likely think more of a broken leg or a hurt back. However, skin cancer can easily be an injury, but only if it is indeed work-related. Since certain diseases are common in certain working industries, most states decided to create a new category that contained occupational disease as a condition that should be treated as an accident-related injury. In other words, it is eligible for workers' compensation.

When Is Skin Cancer Considered an Occupational Disease?

Every state has its own laws regarding skin cancer and whether it is actually considered a work-related disease. Here are three examples in the state of California, Colorado and Massachusetts:

  • California – Lifeguards who work at least three months in a row and develop skin cancer as a result of said employment may be entitled to workers' compensation. Skin cancer, in this case, is considered an injury that is covered.

  • Colorado – If a firefighter has worked for at least five years and is then impaired, disabled or killed by skin cancer, he or she may be considered as having a work-related disease and can obtain workers' compensation benefits. If killed, then his or her family may be entitled to workers' comp death benefits.

  • Massachusetts – Here, any member of the state police in the fire investigation unit of the state police force, fighters, crash boatmen, crash crewman, fire control men, assistant fire control men and state police K-9 unit members may be eligible for workers' compensation if they develop skin cancer on the job after five years of employment.

If you have been working outside and have found out that you have skin cancer, speak to a workers' compensation attorney to find out if your particularly situation qualifies you for benefits.