The COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic has impacted many different aspects of life throughout the country, including the workplace. Each type of employer and employee has had to make changes to ensure the safety of workers and customers. But if your employer doesn’t do enough to keep your workplace safe, can you hold him responsible?
Figuring out your legal rights in this type of unprecedented situation can be tricky, but the experienced attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP can help. If you believe that you or a loved one contracted COVID-19 while working and you’d like our team’s legal perspectives on coronavirus, call 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER: We’ll provide a free legal consultation to help answer any questions you may have.
Is COVID-19 a Compensable Injury Under State Workers’ Compensation Laws?
The answer is complex, and varies by state. Generally, in order for an employee to qualify for workers’ compensation, most states require proof that an injury occurred at work, stemmed from a single act, and was caused by the employment. Many state statutes governing workers’ compensation exclude “ordinary diseases of life” such as colds or the flu. Even in industries where there is a high probability of exposure, such as the health care industry, it can be difficult to prove under state workers’ compensation laws that the virus was caught at work, so it’s unlikely to be considered a workplace injury. However, each state approaches COVID-19 legal claims for workers’ compensation differently, and specific rules applicable to the coronavirus have been put in place in some states.
Is COVID-19 an Occupational Disease?
Maybe. An “occupational disease” is described as any disease that is contracted through risk factors arising from one’s work activity. Occupational disease claims are analyzed differently from other workers’ compensation claims because they are not the result of a single event that caused an injury. An occupational disease requires a work-related exposure that had a harmful effect on the employee, and there must be a link that can be medically diagnosed between the exposure and the harmful effect on the employee.
When a workers’ comp administrator examines the conditions of employment, they are usually looking for exposure to chemicals, toxic substances, fumes, noise, vibrations or radiation. However, in at least 19 states, there is a “rebuttable presumption” standard for some careers, such as firefighters and other first-responders. This means that people in those occupations who contract certain illnesses are presumed to be covered under workers’ compensation due to their routine exposure to things like smoke and toxic gases. Employees may be able to claim a rebuttable presumption in their COVID-19 lawsuit or workers’ comp case, if they have a high probability of exposure to the coronavirus in the course of their work. Even so, it can still be difficult to prove that an employee contracted the disease on the job and there is still a chance of being denied under most existing workers’ compensation schemes.
Coronavirus Guidance and Legislation
If you plan to talk to an attorney to get coronavirus legal advice, it’s important to make sure the lawyer is knowledgeable about local laws and how those laws have changed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the rules surrounding coronavirus legal issues vary widely from state to state. For example, in New York, pending legislation would create a rebuttable presumption that impairment of health caused by COVID-19 was incurred during duty for certain police, parole, and probation officers and other emergency responders. And in Florida, the Office of Insurance Regulation issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-05M to remind employers to provide coverage to first responders, health-care workers, and other workers who contract the virus through work-related exposure, a requirement outlined in CFO Directive 2020-05. These different state regulations and mandates are why it’s important to talk to a knowledgeable attorney about your potential coronavirus lawsuit, so you can make an informed decision about the best course of action.
Get Help With Your
The experienced lawyers at Parker Waichman can provide the coronavirus legal help you need, and we’ll do so for free with no obligation. Just call our law firm and our personal injury attorneys will take the time to talk to you about your situation, get all of the details and facts about your case, and examine the latest coronavirus legal guidance in your state to determine how these rules affect your claim. Then, we’ll advise you on whether you should pursue a coronavirus lawsuit to seek compensation.
Call 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529) or fill out our online form today to get a free, confidential consultation with our attorneys.