Technically, you have a right to seek compensation in Pennsylvania if you get sick while at work because of your job. For example, if the workplace is filled with hazardous materials and you breathe toxic dust for years on end, it could cause respiratory issues that wouldn’t have come about if it wasn’t for the workplace.

However, experts do warn that it’s often much harder to prove that sicknesses or illnesses warrant a compensation claim than it is to prove that a one-time event caused an injury. It can be harder to show that definite link between the two.

Often, one-time injuries happen in a dramatic fashion. If you break your leg when a vehicle strikes you on the job site, it’s not hard to show that you were hit while at work, that the impact is distinctly what caused your leg to be broken, and that any costs—from lost wages to medical bills—stemmed directly from that injury.

For an illness, though, the proof may not be as distinct. Would you still have gotten sick even if you hadn’t had that job? Are there other factors that contributed to it? In the example of respiratory ailments listed above, other factors could include your home living environment or whether or not you smoke cigarettes.

This isn’t to say that a link can’t be made, as it often can. It’s just harder to sort through all of the details, especially when prolonged exposure over years is what caused the problem, rather than a well-documented event that happened on a single day.

As you work through this process, be sure you know what proof is needed and what legal steps to take.

Source: Healthline, “If Your Job Makes You Sick, You May Be Out of Luck,” Kristen Fischer, accessed Dec. 10, 2015