The Impact Of COVID-19 On Workers’ Comp Claims
In many ways, businesses are being challenged like never before by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Among the challenges is an increased possibility of additional occupational illnesses. What could be more significant, however, is the eventual impact on workers’ comp systems. Included in this could be the following for many employers:
- COVID-19 workers’ comp claims
- Increased administrative burdens
- Higher overall costs
- Greater claims frequency
With fewer people working during the pandemic, one would think that workers’ compensation claim frequency would drop overall. Across all industries, however, this effect will not necessarily be felt. While there will be COVID-19 exposure cases, that will not cover all of the claims to be faced by employers.
To promote social distancing, remote working models have been transitioned to by many businesses. But not all businesses have the ability to do so. Still working in close quarters are workers in industries such as distribution, retail, manufacturing, construction, hospitality, transportation, aviation, and more. Through contact with coworkers, customers, and others, these people are at greater risk of coronavirus exposure.
Similar concerns are faced by medical professionals, first responders, and public safety workers where the risk of coming into contact with patients already suffering from COVID-19 is greater. Additionally, these professionals may be required to work longer hours than usual and can easily end up suffering from overexertion, dehydration, lack of sleep, and more. Under the state workers’ compensation systems, those conditions/injuries may be compensable.
Factors Relating to Increased Claims
Increased workers’ compensation claims related to the coronavirus are likely to occur. To ready themselves for increased claims, employers should expect the following factors to have an impact on workers’ comp claims increases:
- Growing unemployment – many businesses have been forced to furlough or terminate employees due to dire long-term economic forecasts as a result of the pandemic. By applying for workers’ compensation benefits, some of these workers may seek to offset their income loss. This could include filing fraudulent claims, in some cases.
- Telecommuting – regardless of whether employees are working at home or on company premises, they face similar exposure potential to injuries related to work. But things like in-home distractions, improper use of equipment, lack of oversight of work environments, and more threaten employees and present additional challenges for employers. Many employees are also suffering from mental stress and growing anxiety during the current pandemic.
- New hires – despite the pandemic, online retailers, brick-and-mortar retailers, and more – to meet the growing demand for services and specific products – are hiring new employees. These employees could be prone to injuries in the workplace because there has been little time for safety training and orientation. They are operating in a work environment that is unfamiliar.
Claims Resolutions Assuredly Delayed
Claims remaining open for longer periods of time is a realistic possibility for existing claims and new claims, in addition to claims frequency upticks. Many hearings are being postponed (though some are being conducted virtually). Workers’ compensation board offices have closed in many areas across the country. Also limited are field investigative services, independent medical exams, and other claim resources.
Delays in the recovery of injured employees could also be seen due to overwhelming pandemic cases in hospitals and due to doctors’ offices/physical therapists closing temporarily. Also as a result of the pandemic, some surgeries have been postponed or canceled.
When doctors’ offices and therapist services reopen, and surgeries are once again scheduled and conducted, there will be backlogs. Workers’ compensation boards as well as the services just mentioned will struggle to keep up. Therefore, even more, costs could be driven up for employers and outstanding claims resolutions delayed.
Eventually, we will hopefully return to some semblance of normal – though it may be a new normal. What is important now is that, where appropriate, the lines of communication remain open and active. Should you need to speak through your attorney, however, they are available to assist you – if, that is, you go through Corradino & Papa, LLC.
Corradino & Papa, LLC – We’ll Fight for Your COVID Workers’ Comp Cases
At Corradino & Papa, LLC, our staff and attorneys are available 24/7. Through this COVID-19 crisis, we are continuing to work and fight for you and your rights. We are staying in constant contact with our clients via telecommunications and videoconferencing. Without interruption, we will continue to pursue your claims while you remain safely in your home. Let us handle the heavy work – you concentrate on getting better! Contact us today for a free consultation.
Disclaimer: Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.