Asbestosis, Lung Cancer With Pleural Disease, And Mesothelioma Are Compensable Medical Conditions
Here is the so-called “formula” used to determine the filing deadline for a North Carolina asbestos workers compensation claim.
The asbestos disease comp claim must be filed within 2 years of when:
(a) the person is told by a medical doctor that he or she has an asbestos disease — that is, actually being diagnosed with asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma; and,
(b) the person is told by a medical doctor that the asbestos disease was caused by asbestos exposure at the work place or on the job — that is, the medical condition is related to their employment.
In legal terms, this filing deadline is called the “statute of limitations”.
To be clear, a medical doctor simply telling a patient that he or she has an asbestos-related disease does not start the running of the NC workers comp asbestos claim statute of limitations. Rather, the doctor must also tell the patient that the asbestos disease was caused by his or her exposure to asbestos dust at the work place or on the job site.
Moreover, being told by a nurse, a physicians assistant, or someone other than a medical doctor that the asbestos disease “may be” work-related, or even “is” work-related, is not sufficient to begin the 2 year filing deadline period of time. Rather, the connection of the asbestos disease to the person’s work-related asbestos exposure must be stated to them by a medical doctor.
Insofar that there is always a delay from the time of exposure to asbestos dust to the onset of symptoms and diagnosis of asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma — generally at least 10 years and up to 50 years; “latency period” is the medical term for this delay period — it is not uncommon for a person to no longer be working with or around asbestos-containing materials at the time when the asbestos disease diagnosis is made. Accordingly, unless a good work history is taken at the office visit, a discussion about the asbestos disease being caused by one’s exposure to asbestos dust long ago while working is often not part of the diagnosis discussion. In that scenario, the 2 year filing deadline period for the NC workers comp claim has not started because part (b) of the formula set forth above has not been satisfied.
Finally, North Carolina law does not require a person to self-diagnose and/or file an asbestos workers comp claim based only upon on his or her own suspicions. Put otherwise, even if a person thinks that he or she has an asbestos-related disease, the NC workers compenstation statute of limitations period does not begin to run until a doctor tells the worker that they actually have an asbestos-realted disease, i.e., a medical diagnosis is actually made, and the doctor tells the person that their asbestos disease is due to workplace exposure to asbestos dust.