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Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Workers Sickness and Compensation Issues

Author: Mitchell Lloyd Feldman, Esq.

Published: 2010-10-10

Synopsis and Key Points:

Workers helping clean up the Gulf oil spill and distribute toxic oil dispersants became sick immediately while others are beginning to feel the effects now.

Main Digest

Workers Compensation Issues for Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Workers - Florida workers who fought the Gulf Coast oil spill have been coming home sick. Some became sick immediately from exposure to oil and dispersants, while others felt the effects only upon their return.

Florida workers who went out to fight the worst oil spill in history have been coming home sick, according to media reports. Some workers helping clean up the oil or distribute toxic oil dispersants became sick immediately, while others felt the effects only upon their return to their homes.

Exposure to Toxins

In May, the Environmental Protection Agency told BP to stop using a dispersant considered too toxic.

"Dispersants have been used in much greater volume than ever," Jane Lubchenco, administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told the Christian Science Monitor.

Unsurprisingly, workers reported chest pains, dizziness, respiratory problems and other ill effects from exposure to the dispersants, as well as to the fumes and oil coming from the unprecedented oil spill.

Florida workers who suffered illness or injury as a result of their work on the oil spill clean-up or recovery or other activity might well qualify for workers' compensation as a result. If your employer was a state or federal agency, it is required to carry workers' compensation insurance. If your employer has more than four employees, and is not in the construction industry, it's required to carry workers' compensation insurance as well.

Reporting an Illness or Injury

If you've suffered an illness or injury as a result of your work on the clean-up or recovery of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, you should report the work-related illness or injury to your employer. -Report the illness as soon as possible; report any injuries within 30 days a physician tells you the injury is work-related or within 30 days of your knowledge of the injury or illness. If you fail to report the injury or illness, you may be denied workers' compensation benefits.

Workers' Compensation Benefits

Following a work-related illness or injury, your employer is responsible for the costs of the following:

Lost wages

Doctor visits


Prescription drugs

Physical therapy

Medical tests

Reimbursement for mileage driven between the doctor's office and pharmacy

Temporary or Permanent Disability

Some workers suffer temporary or permanent disabilities as a result of their work-related illnesses or injuries.

If the doctor determines that you can't work because of your workplace illness or injury, you should receive two-thirds of your regular wages (up to a maximum reimbursement amount).

Some severe injuries can make you eligible to receive 80 percent of regular wages for up to six months.

For permanently disabled workers, you may receive total disability benefits.

What if Workers' Comp Benefits are Denied

If your claim for workers' compensation is denied, you can file a petition for benefits with the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims. At this point in the process, many injured or ill employees hire a Florida workers' compensation attorney to represent them.

From there, the appeals process goes to mediation, a Workers' Compensation Judge, a pre-trial hearing and to a final hearing. The decision of the final hearing can be appealed to a District Court of Appeals.

Article provided by Mitchell Lloyd Feldman, Esq. - Visit us at

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