As COVID-19 continues to plague our nation, there is expected to be an increase in workers’ compensation claims in the coming weeks and months. If you have been injured at work as a result of COVID-19, know that you have rights and deserve compensation.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has compiled resources for employees seeking workers’ comp during the pandemic.
Workers’ Compensation and COVID-19: Know Your Rights
In this unprecedented time, there are many unknowns when it comes to workers’ compensation and COVID-19. Insurance providers and state Legislatures have been working together to ensure that employees’ needs are met and they are not taken advantage of by their employers.
- Does COVID-19 qualify for workers comp?: Right now, the answer is perhaps. It depends on your state. Workers’ compensation is for occupational diseases that arise out of the course of employment as many states will not include ordinary diseases of life. However, some may argue that for those who may be at risk of higher exposure to COVID-19 due to their employment (like healthcare workers) this is an occupational disease. However, that is still open to interpretation. Some states are looking to include such employees into coverage at this time.
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Currently under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, there is no such provision to workers’ compensation. However, business groups are teaming together to inhibit COVID-19 from increasing premiums.
Essential Workers Not Employed By Medical Industry
Many are assuming that public safety workers in the medical industry who contract such illnesses like COVID-19 will be entitled to some form of compensation. But, for those who are “essential workers” but not medical workers, what rights do they have?
In a National Law Review article, the point has been made that for those employees who work in restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and banks, if they contract COVID-19, will they be afforded similar rights?
Right now, it appears not.
Instead of workers’ compensation, these employees would have to survive off of unemployment, sick leave or temporary disability should the illness be severe enough. However, states like New Jersey are hoping to change this so any essential worker may be entitled to compensation.
Reporting a Workers’ Compensation Claim Due to COVID-19
As stated above, some states have permitted COVID-19 to be such an occupational illness that you may receive compensation. However, time is not on your side. If you have contracted COVID-19 at work, you need to seek action immediately.
To illustrate you had contracted the illness at work, you will need to provide evidence that you contracted COVID-19 at work while you were performing services related to your employment.
From there, your employer will investigate the claim to see what grounds you stand on. From there, you will be denied or approved for workers’ compensation.
If granted workers’ compensation, what am I entitled to? And, what if I’m denied?
Under workers’ compensation, you may be entitled to medical coverage, disability benefits, rehabilitation, and death benefits. In general, these may include:
- Doctor visits
- Medical tests and procedures
- Total or partial disability
- Death benefits for the spouse of the deceased
If you are denied workers’ compensation, you can appeal the decision. In some states, you have as many as three years to appeal and seek a court hearing. You will have to show evidence, attend all hearings and mediation secession should they occur.
I have a workers’ compensation claim due to COVID-19. I need legal representation.
If you have been injured due to COVID-19, including contracting the virus, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. This can be a difficult process–do not go it alone.