There are cases in which a disease process is caused by a specific event but the exact date of the event or "accident" cannot be identified. For example, a firefighter who is exposed to hepatitis while providing medical assistance to various people over an extended time period may not be able to identify the particular event which caused the disease but there was such an event. Price v. City of New Orleans, 95-1851 (La. App. 4th Cir. 3/27/96), 672 So.2d 1045; See also Landry v. Physicians Practice Management, Columbia/HCA, 00-1298 (La. App. 3d Cir. 4/4/01), 783 So.2d 619 (a nurse employed by several physicians developed mononucleosis as a result of exposure to one of several patients).

These and similar cases would fall within the occupational disease law due to the problem of identifying an "accident" date and also because there is a need to distinguish between diseases one acquires at work because of the nature of the work from those diseases that one may have acquired at work but is not "peculiar" to the employment (e.g., exposure to flu virus).

1. Occupational Diseases—LSA R.S. 23:1031.1

Legislative Recognition of Occupational Disease Claims. The original Workers' Compensation Law did not recognize injuries that were not the result of an "accident" even if the condition was clearly work related. Occupational diseases first were accepted as compensable in Louisiana through a legislative amendment to the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Law in 1952. However, this law limited the claims to a specific list of diseases (e.g., silicosis).


Stucky v City of Alexandria, 81 So.2d 46 (La App 2d Cir 1955). A watchman at a zoo who claimed to have contracted "parrot's fever" (psittacosis) was not able to recover under the occupational disease law because it was not among the listed occupational diseases.

a. Legislative Expansion of Occupational Disease Claims

In 1975 the legislature amended the occupational disease act by removing the requirement that the disease fit the specific listing and substituting instead a broad definition of occupational disease.

However, under this more liberal definition was included the requirement that the disease be one that is "characteristic of and peculiar to” their job. La. R.S. 23:1031.1 Occupational Disease

b. An occupational disease means only that disease or illness which is due to causes and conditions characteristic of and peculiar to the particular trade, occupation, process, or employment in which the employee is exposed to such disease.


c. Cumulative Trauma as Occupational Disease

i) The occupational disease law also expresses a legislative exclusion of cumulative trauma disorders (e.g., "degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, arthritis of any type" La. R.S. 23:1031.1 B. The one exception to this limitation is the recognition of "work-related carpal tunnel syndrome" (La. R.S. 23:1031.1 B).

ii)Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) - This condition may be compensable as an "accident" if there is an identifiable event that preceded the onset of symptoms. Smith v Tudor Construction, 25,783 (La. App. 2d Cir. 5/4/94), 637 So.2d 666. Without the identification of an "accident", the Legislature specifically has excluded from the compensation system any conditions that are the result of "gradual deterioration or progressive degeneration". La .Rev. Stat. 23:1021(1). See e.g., Balsamo v Jones, 28,885 (La. App. 2d Cir. 12/11/96), 685 So.2d 1140.

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