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You Shouldn't Have To Fight For Workers' Comp Benefits

Man in Italy entitled to workers' compensation for cellphone use

Many Philadelphia workers are frequently on their cellphones as part of their job. Logistical plans need to be drawn up, clients and partners need to receive communications and deals need to be closed. Cellphone use is simply unavoidable for employees of many businesses, especially those whose jobs require significant time away from the office.

Over the years, there has been some speculation that holding a cellphone so close to one's brain for hours every day could lead to tumors. While the World Health Organization lists cellphones as a "possible" carcinogen, no demonstrated link between cellphones and brain tumors has been established in scientific studies.

Nevertheless, the highest court in Italy ruled last week that a man's brain cancer was caused by his prolonged use of cellphones. According to court documents, the man had used cellphones for his job over the course of the last 12 years. Frequent contact with overseas clients demanded that he spend approximately six hours every day on his cellphone.

A nerve inside his brain developed a benign tumor, and doctors testified that cellphone use can raise the odds of developing that type of cancer. The man developed partial paralysis of the face from the tumor. The Italian court concluded that there was enough evidence to award the man the equivalent of workers' compensation.

Of course, the Italian court's ruling has no precedential effect on U.S. courts' treatment of similar matters. It remains to be seen whether a U.S. court would accept a like workers' compensation argument. But at the very least, the Italian man's case puts us all on notice that some of the things we use daily for our jobs could in the long run cause illness or injury requiring workers' compensation.

Source: Associated Press, "Italian court: man with benign brain tumor who used cellphone for job merits compensation," Oct. 19, 2012

• Workers' compensation laws allow recovery for certain losses, such as disfigurement, that do not cause one to become disabled from future work. You can learn more by visiting our Pennsylvania specific loss workers' compensation page.

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