Is COVID-19 Covered Under Workers’ Comp In The United States?
For businesses, in many ways, the still active COVID-19 pandemic is proving challenging at the very least. Systems experiencing the most significant challenges, however, can well be that of United States workers’ compensation. In the United States commercial insurance market, it is the largest premium segment. In 49 states, it is mandated by law. The potential for administrative burdens and higher costs is a real threat and one that is closely associated with this pandemic. For many employers, the workers’ compensation process will be considered even more complicated than it already is. Many are asking the question, “Is COVID-19 covered under workers’ comp?”
Additionally, while feeling frustrated, confused, and financially pressed, employers can’t help but feel anxiety for employees that were injured – whether dealing with non-virus-related injuries and illnesses or with symptoms related to the pandemic.
OSHA Weighs in on the Coronavirus
OSHA is pretty specific in their definition of illnesses and injuries which can be classified as falling under and being eligible for workers’ compensation. For example, influenza and the common cold are exempt. However, if as a result of performing duties related to work a worker is infected with COVID-19, they would qualify for workers’ compensation. It would, of course, be subject to the same failure-to-record fines and rules as other workplace illnesses and injuries. It may be the employer’s responsibility to prove whether the infection is work-related.
The specifics of what industries will be covered by the assumption that the worker became infected while at work are extremely fluid and vary from state to state. If covered, the same benefits that apply to other workers’ compensation cases would apply to pandemic cases including time loss payments, treatment expenses, medical testing, etc.
How to Determine If Specific Cases Are Work-Related
There can be little doubt that employees filing workers’ compensation related to the coronavirus will occur. It’s inevitable. Again, however, according to the state in which they reside, the proof of whether or not the infection is occupational can be up to the employer, employee, or not even needed. In the case of the latter, it will simply be presumed that the employee have become infected during the course of their duties.
For a disease or illness to be considered occupational, it means that the illness:
- Is not usual to the employee’s work. The disease presents greater risk for certain employees and is found exclusively among precise employees.
- Is proven to be a direct result of exposure in the workplace.
- Occurs in and arises out of the scope and course of employment. This is determined by whether or not, when they became exposed, the employee was benefiting the employer.
With every day that goes by, figuring out whether or not the COVID-19 virus was contracted at work, during work duties, becomes harder and harder. Naturally, with a higher likelihood of exposure, individuals such as hospitality workers, airline and transportation workers, first responders, and healthcare workers are highly at risk. Unfortunately, once infected by their patients, neighbors, family members, strangers, or coworkers, employees such as healthcare workers can in turn infect anyone in the groups just mentioned.
Have You Been Infected at Work?
If you are an essential employee and have been infected with the coronavirus while working, you are entitled to workers’ compensation under the law. In a perfect world, especially considering everything that’s going on in the world right now, employers will not even attempt to deny workers’ compensation for claims such as this. All too often, however, the world is not a perfect place – as evidenced by COVID-19, among other things.
At times like this, you need someone who is on your side and will fight for your rights. The attorneys and staff at Corradino & Papa, LLC will telecommunicate and videoconference with you to see to it that you get the compensation you deserve. While you stay home, stay safe, and get healthy, we’ll do all the work. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Disclaimer: Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.