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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and workers’ compensation benefits

by | Apr 7, 2020 | Legal, Workers' Compensation

This spring the coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting us all in one way or another. Some are sick, many are out of work, while others continue to work and risk exposure to the virus.

Those working in healthcare and first responders are obviously in danger of contracting the virus, but so are essential workers in warehouses, grocery stores, building trades, prisons, transportation, and many other jobs. What if you catch the corona virus at work? Is it covered by Workers’ Compensation?

One issue is proving that you contracted the virus in the scope of your employment, as opposed to at the grocery store, or at home from a family member. The burden is on the employee to prove where and when the injury or exposure took place.  Because the incubation period for the corona virus can vary from days to weeks, it is difficult to pinpoint the moment of exposure.  

Generally, community contagion is not covered by workers’ compensation.  If the entire public is subject to a danger, it might be difficult to attribute to a work exposure. For instance, though many colds and flues are spread in the workplace, and can progress to serious illness, workers compensation is generally not used to remedy many of these cases. 

But the coronavirus is obviously different because of the way it is spread and the possible severity of symptoms, length of its course and possible medical billing exposure.  At this time there is no vaccine, and no proven treatment. 

It is our position that workers are putting themselves in harm’s way to combat this pandemic, and they should be compensated if they contract the illness in the scope of their employment. If you have contracted coronavirus, you should first talk to a workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your particular situation regarding filing a claim. 

Workers’ Compensation differs from state to state, so each state is grappling with how to handle this new probable onslaught of cases.  The president of WILG – the Worker’s Injury Law & Advocacy Group – recently sent an open letter to state governors and legislatures, urging them to take measure to protect workers, especially those on the front lines caring for victims of the corona virus. 

Once again, for those on the front lines during these trying times – THANK YOU!!

If you have any questions about whether you might have a workers’ compensation claim because of exposure to the corona virus, please call me at 402 505-3555.