The coronavirus outbreak has affected American workers differently. There are those who cannot work, either as a safety precaution or due to business disruption. Some can work from home with minimal issues. Essential workers, on the other hand, are expected to come to work and risk potential COVID-19 exposure. For those who are working, the pressure of earning a paycheck may overshadow the fear of coronavirus contraction.
When someone contracts coronavirus, losing income can be an unfortunate consequence of getting sick. Although essential workers have different hurdles to earn workers’ compensation than typical workplace injuries, they may both still submit a claim. Since states are implementing different standards and processes, infected employees should discuss COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims with a local attorney.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
To provide workers’ compensation, employers pay insurance premiums that cover any employee injury or illness that arises from and occurring in the course of their employment.Although this clause covers injuries or illnesses that occur or are transmitted during work, solid evidence may be required to prove this. If a case meets the criteria, possible compensation could include medical treatment, wage replacement and vocational rehabilitation.
Currently, there is uncertainty about whether the coronavirus is covered within existing workers’ compensation laws, as some statutes do not cover infectious diseases. Likewise, it may be difficult to prove a transmission occurred at a specific time during work hours. To handle these issues, legislation may expand or refine existing criteria for coronavirus cases.
COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Legislation
Workers’ compensation for coronavirus cases will vary by state, as each has different existing procedures, requirements, and definitions. This variety in regulations, combined with how COVID-19 has hit each state differently, may create profound differences nationwide in how workers’ comp claims are being approached.
Most notably, California Governor Newsom issued an executive order on May 6th to broaden COVID-19 workers’ compensation coverage. In a major change, this legislation presumes coronavirus transmission occurs at work for most sick employees. For a disease as infectious as the coronavirus, this change in criteria opens up compensation opportunities.
Conversely, some states are considering granting employers certain immunity from liability and workers’ compensation claims. These efforts would seek to help a recovering economy and protect small businesses from costly lawsuits and high insurance premiums. In effect, all of these public policy decisions will create distinctions between the rights and safety of workers’ and the importance of the economy.
Am I Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
In many cases, a transmission must happen during a work shift and requires certain proof in order to be eligible for workers’ compensation. Since COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease, there may be an uphill battle in proving it meets the standards for a workplace-specific injury rather than a general population transmission.
Place of employment may also be an important factor in determining compensation eligibility. For instance, medical professionals who work with sick COVID-19 patients may have different protections than those who work in a contactless business with low transmission rates. To understand existing statutes and emerging precedents, infected workers should seek legal advice. Doing so can help a worker earn the best compensation package possible.
“The workers’ COVID-19 compensation requirements may change as the nation recovers,” said Attorney David Gordon of the Law Office of David E. Gordon. “To better understand your case and deal with the insurance company, you will want an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you avoid common mistakes and provide the assistance you need.”
With evolving reopening strategies, no one knows in which direction the COVID-19 situation will go. Some states are considering passing groundbreaking legislation to protect workers who contract the coronavirus. Meanwhile, other states and federal legislators are concerned those protections may hurt returning businesses in a damaged economy. As such, workers’ compensation protections will grapple the fine line between worker and economy protection.
Since there are many factors at play, workers with COVID-19 should consider their legal options with experienced attorneys. Discussing a case is an essential step to recovering coronavirus workers’ compensation.