To understand the filing deadline for NC benzene workers compensation claims, first it is important to understand the difference between:
- Whether you may have a possible benzene workers compensation claim; and,
- The so-called “formula” for determining the filing deadline in North Carolina for a benzene disease workers comp case.
We will briefly explain how these two points are somewhat related but definitely separate issues, and how they affect your possible benzene disease workers compensation claim.
(1) Do I have a possible benzene disease workers compensation claim?
If you have been exposed to benzene or benzene-containing products during the course of your employment, no matter how many years ago, and you have been diagnosed by a medical doctor with a benzene-related disease such as acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), then you may have a workers compensation claim.
At this point in time — and without delay, for the reason explained in the next section on this page — we encourage you to contact us so that we can investigate your possible benzene disease workers comp case. In advance of what you will read in the next section about workers comp filing deadlines, we want to make clear this important point:
If you have been diagnosed with a benzene-related disease, you do NOT have to wait to contact us until one of your doctors specifically connects or links that disease to your previous work exposure to benzene.
This is because your diagnosing doctor may not be aware of your work history from many years ago, or they may not have the extensive knowledge of diseases related to chemical exposure that a medical specialist would have. This would make it difficult for your doctor to connect your benzene disease to your previous workplace exposure.
However, given our experience handling chemical exposure cases, we can investigate the facts of your work history, and help determine whether your AML or other benzene-related disease can be attributed to occupational exposure to benzene.
(2) Does North Carolina have a filing deadline for these types of workers compensation claims?
After the diagnosis of a benzene-related 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:
(a) the person is told by a medical doctor that he or she has a disease which could be related to benzene exposure, 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); and, (b) the person is told by a medical doctor that the disease may be related to their employment — that it, the disease was likely or possibly caused by benzene exposure at the work place or on the job.
In effect, if your North Carolina workers compensation claim is not filed before this 2-year filing deadline, you lose you legal rights as regards getting compensated by the responsible employer (or its insurance company) for your benzene disease.
Some questions about when the 2-year filing deadline begins
The essential message is that in order for the North Carolina workers comp claim filing deadline time period to begin, 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 the your exposure to benzene at your work place 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 work place.
- “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 on his or her own suspicions. A doctor must formally diagnose the worker with a benzene-related disease, and state that their 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 breast implants 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.