Factors: Work History and Medical Situation
In order to explain the North Carolina filing deadline for a benzene workers compensation claim, it is important to start with two related but definitely separate issues:
- The first thing to determine is whether one may have a possible North Carolina benzene workers compensation claim.
- If so, then we have to focus on what is the starting point, or “trigger”, for the North Carolina filing deadline for that claim.
Given this introduction, we will now briefly discuss what is involved with each of those two issues, or questions.
(1) Is there a possible North Carolina benzene workers compensation claim to file?
Whether there may be possible a benzene workers compensation claim is a determination made by focusing on the benzene-exposed worker. For that purpose, we look at both their work history and their medical situation.
For the purpose of this explanation, we will refer to the benzene-exposed worker as “this person” rather than “you”. We do so because besides that worker being able to file an “injury claim” under North Carolina workers compensation law, the surviving spouse and family of a deceased worker can file a “death claim” seeking workers comp benefits.
Further, we will break down this explanation into parts A, B, and C for easier reading (hopefully):
A. If this person was exposed to benzene or benzene-containing products during the course of on a job or in a worksite that was located in North Carolina, no matter how many years ago; and,
B. This person has been diagnosed by a medical doctor with a benzene-related cancer or disease such as acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS); then,
C. There is a possible North Carolina benzene workers compensation claim that might be filed, depending on further facts.
Next, if there is a possible “injury claim” to file on behalf of the worker or a possible “death claim” to file on behalf of the surviving spouse and family, it is time to act, without delay, for the reason explained in section (2) below. Specifically, we encourage you to contact us so that we can start to investigate this possible benzene workers comp case as soon as possible
In advance of what will be explained about the North Carolina filing deadline for a benzene workers compensation claim in the section (2) below, we want to make clear this important point: If this person has been diagnosed with a benzene-related cancer or disease, you do NOT have to wait to until one of the doctors specifically connects or links the medical diagnosis to benzene exposure before contacting us.
We tell you that for several reasons, including these:
- The diagnosing doctor may not be aware of this person having been on a job or in a worksite that used benzene or benzene-containing products in the past, and maybe many years before ever seeing that doctor. This is a common situation because the doctor did not ask this person about exposures to benzene in the past, or because this person did not tell the doctor about the benzene or benzene-containing products that were used on a job or in a worksite.
- The diagnosing doctor may not have knowledge of what cancers and diseases might be related to benzene exposure. There are medical specialists called “occupational disease” doctors who have that type of knowledge, and they can connect the medical diagnosis to benzene exposure later when reviewing the case facts.
The point is that given our experience handling benzene cases we can investigate the facts of this person’s work history for exposures to benzene in the past and, in turn, help figure out whether this person’s medical diagnosis might be related to past exposures to benzene.
And that brings us to our second question which, also, involves both this person’s work history and medical situation.
(2) What is the North Carolina filing deadline for a benzene workers compensation claim?
We now focus on the so-called “formula” used for determining the North Carolina filing deadline for this possible case identified in section (1) above.
After the diagnosis of a benzene-related cancer or disease such as acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), the patient will have a certain amount of time to file a workers compensation claim. In North Carolina, the benzene disease compensation claim must be filed within 2 years of when:
- This person is told by a medical doctor that he or she has a cancer or disease –such as acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), multiple myeloma, or Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) — which could be related to benzene exposure; AND,
- This person is told by a medical doctor that the cancer or disease may be related to their employment — for example, the cancer or disease could have been caused by this person’s past benzene exposures on a job or in a workplace.
Beware that if the benzene workers compensation claim is not filed before this 2-year North Carolina filing deadline, an “injury claim” for the worker or a “death claim” for the surviving spouse and family will not be successful because, in effect, you lose your legal rights as regards getting compensated by the responsible employer (or its workers compensation insurance company) for this benzene-related cancer or disease case.
About North Carolina Filing Deadline
The essential message is that in order for the North Carolina filing deadline time period to begin for a benzene workers compensation claim, you must have heard both of the above statements from one or more of your doctors. Below are several different scenarios pertaining to whether the start of the 2-year filing deadline period has begun.
- “My doctor diagnosed me with a benzene-related disease, but did not say that it was related to working around benzene.”
- NO. The doctor must also state that your exposure to benzene at your workplace or job site caused your disease. Make sure to discuss your work history with your doctor if you believe you might have been exposed to benzene at your workplace or job site.
- “A nurse told me that my benzene-related disease is probably work-related.”
- NO. A medical doctor must make the connection between your benzene disease to your work-related exposure. Being told by a nurse, a physicians assistant, or someone other than a medical doctor that the benzene disease “may be” work-related, or even “is” work-related, is not sufficient to begin the 2-year filing deadline period of time.
- “I am pretty sure that I have a benzene-related disease, but have not yet received a formal diagnosis from my doctor.”
- NO. North Carolina law does not require a person to self-diagnose and/or file a benzene workers comp claim based only upon his or her own suspicions. A doctor must formally diagnose the worker with a benzene-related disease, and state that the disease is due to workplace exposure to benzene.
- “One of my doctors diagnosed me with a benzene-related disease, but a different doctor told me that it was due to workplace benzene exposure.”
- YES. Even though two different doctors relayed this information, the start of the countdown to the filing deadline would run from the date that the second (i.e., more recent) doctor told you that your disease was related to occupational exposure to benzene.
We encourage you to submit a Benzene Case Review – it is free, confidential, and there is no obligation. Or, if you prefer, call our toll-free number, (800) 426-9535, to speak directly to attorney Tom Lamb about a possible benzene case. Either way, you will get Mr. Lamb’s impressions — not an intake person, a paralegal, nor some other lawyer — about your case based on his many years of experience.