The Indiana Occupational Diseases Act defines disablement by an occupational disease as:
…becoming disabled from earning full wages at the work in which the employee was engaged when last exposed to the hazards of the occupational disease by the employer from whom he claims compensation or equal wages in other suitable employment…Indiana Code §223-7-9(e).
In short, disablement means a worker is unable to earn full wages due to an occupational disease.
Understanding the Law
The Indiana Occupational Diseases Act provides that a worker with an occupational disease may not receive benefits unless the occupational disease causes disablement within 2 years from the last date of exposure to the harmful chemical or substance. Thereafter, an injured worker has 2 years from the date of disablement to file an Application for Adjustment of Claim (Form 29109) with the Worker’s Compensation Board of Indiana.
For occupational diseases that result in death, the worker’s dependents may be eligible for benefits if the death occurs no more than 2 years after disablement and if the dependents file an AAC (Form 29109) with the Board within 2 years after the date of death.
With regard to radiation exposure, a worker must file an AAC with the Board within 2 years from the date the worker had knowledge or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known of the existence of the injury and its causal link to his or her place of employment.
As for asbestos inhalation injuries, the law sets the following time limits based on the date of last exposure:
- If the last date of exposure is before July 1, 1985, the employee has 3 years from this fate to file a claim.
- If the last date of exposure is on or after July , 1985 but before July 1, 1988, the employee has 20 years from this date to file a claim.
- If the last date of exposure is on or after July 1, 1988, the employee has 35 years from this date to file a claim.
As you can see, all of these time limitations regarding Indiana occupational diseases can be very tricky. If there is a question as to whether you can still file an Application for Adjustment of Claim, you may want to consult with an Ombudsman or a qualified Indiana worker’s compensation attorney.