When Oskars Kamanis (31) came to Norway more than 11 years ago from Latvia, he never imagined that he would develop an occupational disease that made it necessary for him to change his job.
Oskars had been working in the fish industry for 8 years when he started experiencing severe breathing problems. Before that, he had periods where he was struggling with breathing and coughing, but now the symptoms became worse.
– I started having trouble breathing at night, Oskars says. I would wake up sweaty and not being able to breathe. Gradually, the symptoms started showing at daytime and after a while, I could not breathe at the workplace at all.
After having an ongoing insurance case for 1,5 years, Oskars received a total compensation of approximately 1 million from the insurance company due to the asthma. Also, the insurance company covered all his legal expenses.
From being a hard worker to receiving sick leave
When Oskars started experiencing severe symptoms in 2016, he went to see his regular doctor. His doctor suspected that Oskars had asthma and sent a referral to a hospital to do tests.
The results were evident; Oskars had developed asthma and allergy to fish due to the exposure at his workplace. It was clear that Oskars could not continue working at the same place and he started on sick leave.
The case was reported to NAV and in August 2018, NAV approved the asthma as an occupational disease.
Being healthy all his life, Oskars had never been in this situation before and he was uncertain about the future. He felt he needed help and contacted PersonskadeAdvokat1 for advice.
– The situation was very stressful, Oskars says. I did not know what to do in relation to my employer, NAV or the insurance company.
After he contacted PersonskadeAdvokat1, the case was reported to his employer’s work insurance company. The case was registered and the company started to gather medical documents to make their own assessment of the case.
Further proceedings against NAV and the insurance company
After being out of exposure for fish for over a year, we recommended that Oskars sent an application for compensation for non-economic loss (“ménerstatning) to NAV. This is a payment that is supposed to compensate for the disadvantages of having an occupational disease or work injury.
To be entitled to this compensation, you need a medical disability degree of at least 15 %. This degree has nothing to do with the ability to work, it is only a measure of the disease or injury itself. The degree is set by specialist in accordance with a list that contains different types of diseases and injuries.
NAV came to the conclusion that Oskars had a medical degree of 15 % and he received compensation for non-economic loss from NAV.
The assessment made by the specialist used by NAV was of good quality and we asked the insurance company to use it as well. The company agreed and in the final settlement, Oskars also got compensation for non-economic loss from the insurance company.
Because of the symptoms, he could not continue in his old job. Luckily, he was able to get a new job on this own.
– We see that many of our clients are considered well enough to go back to work by NAV as long as they are taken out of the exposure that caused the disease, Sande says. Unfortunately, it is not that easy for everyone. The asthma or allergy may cause irritation when exposed to other environments and allergens. Some people, even though they gain ability to work later, need a period with sick benefits or work assessment allowance (“arbeidsavklaringspenger”) from NAV before they can get back to work.
Compensation for incurred and future income loss
If you have an incurred income loss because you receive sick benefits or work assessment allowance, the insurance company is supposed to cover your income loss. In Oskars’ case, the insurance company covered the difference between what he should have earned if he would have been able to work and what he actually received in sick benefits.
Even though he managed to go back to work at another company, Oskars does not have the same work capacity as before.
– My asthma is under control because of the medicine I take, but I still react to many things around me, Oskars says. When having asthma, the situation varies from day to day; sometimes I feel good and sometimes I feel worse.
Some people lose their ability to work permanently because of an occupational disease or work injury. The insurance company is supposed to compensate for this future loss.
For people who had to quit their old job, but are able to work at another place, the right to compensation for future loss is dependent on whether this person has lost the ability to uphold the same income level as before. Hence, in Norwegian compensation law, you do not get compensation for future loss just because you have developed an occupational disease or a work injury that made it necessary to quit your job.
Because Oskars’ asthma is permanent, he will most likely never be able to achieve the same income level as he had before the asthma.
– We argued that the asthma has led to a permanent loss to uphold his previous income level, Sande says. The insurance company agreed that Oskars has lost part of his work ability and made a payment to compensate for this future loss.
Every case with occupational disease or work injury is different and the same symptoms can lead to different results in relation to the compensation. Having a lawyer can help you get the compensation you are entitled to.
– I recommend using a lawyer in a case like mine, Oskars says. A lawyer can give you information about the process and give you advice on what to do in relation to your employer and insurance company.
If you need legal advice after having developed an occupational disease or work injury, you are welcome to contact us in PersonskadeAdvokat1 for a free evaluation of your case. All of our lawyers work with occupational diseases and work injuries, and everyone speaks English.
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