Accident claims and occupational disease claims that are a result of exposure to radioactive substances in the atomic energy field are now rare, but may well increase with each passing year. The medical and legal problems involved in a number of these cases will be untried, novel and ultra-modern. Many of them will present serious questions of proof because in some cases the injury and the nature of pathology may not become discernible for years after exposure. It will not be easy to determine if casual relationship exists. Some of the claims, such as those involving alleged genetic damage, will transcend the existing Workmen’s Compensation provisions.
It can now be seen that some of the statutes in the various Workmen’s Compensation laws will probably have to be modified or new sections added with regard to radiation injury cases. However, this is something for the future.
The experience to date has not been drastic. At present the atomic energy field is divided into three main categories. The extensive activity of the government itself encompasses the first group. The second group covers private industry engaged in atomic energy projects on behalf of the government. This includes contractors who operate installations such as Hanford and Oak Ridge as well as the hundreds of companies which have supply contracts for these government runs and government sponsored operations.
The third group consists of private industry engaged in atomic energy activity on its own behalf and may include such diverse enterprises as General Electric’s power plant in Schenectady or medical laboratories and hospitals using radioactive substances.
The full potential of the atomic era will probably not be felt for many years but many well-informed insurance executives hold the definite opinion that the private insurance system is capable of handling the Workmen’s Compensation insurance on these risks. However, because the atomic energy field has not yet developed credible statistical criteria and is till fraught with many unknown hazards, there is under consideration a possible participation by the government in indemnification for losses above a stipulated amount. Most insurance executive are confident that existing problems or even problems now foreseeable, are amenable to solution.
Opting for a local attorney would make a difference as far as the case is concerned.