Workers’ Compensation and COVID-19
COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, has been a hot topic of discussion for months now. Since the first reported case at the end of 2019 to now, the numbers continue to rise. The federal government, along with state governments, have placed mandated orders in the hopes of slowing down the spread. However, businesses are hurting and some employers are reluctant to shut down, putting their employees at risk. Essential workers may be entitled to workers’ compensation from working in unsafe conditions, or have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Workers’ Compensation Overview
Workers’ compensation is a state-mandated insurance program that provides benefits to employees who suffer job-related injuries and illnesses. Each state’s program varies, which results in different benefits. But all programs provide reimbursement for medical expenses related to the injury. Additionally, these programs provide compensation for lost wages while you are unable to work. Other benefits may include rehabilitation and retraining. It is also important to note that accepting workers’ comp benefits means you waive the right to sue your employer.
For a workers’ compensation claim to be successful, there are four general criteria it must meet. The first is that you must be an employee of the company. Independent contractors, freelance workers and volunteers generally do not qualify for workers’ compensation.
Secondly, your employer must have workers’ compensation insurance. The type of coverage depends on a few different things. These factors include your state’s guidelines for the number of employees, the type of business, and the type of work performed. Thirdly, your injury or illness must be directly related to work. And lastly, you must file your claim within your state’s given time period.
Worker’s compensation covers most job-related injuries and illnesses. However, there is a chance your coverage could be denied. For instance, one of the most common reasons for workers’ compensation denial is the influence of illegal drugs.
Additionally, self-inflicted injuries or illnesses generally do not qualify for coverage. Your injury also may not be covered if it was the result of a serious crime or a company policy violation.
Workers’ Compensation Due to COVID-19
There is no clear answer on whether or not you will be eligible for workers’ compensation if diagnosed with COVID-19. Even if you were exposed to the virus while on the job. Insurance companies have several things to consider, like your specific state laws, the nature of your job, and the circumstances of your case. However, we will do our best to break down the steps of proving work-related illness and some of the obstacles you may come across.
Proving The Link Between Your Job and Your Illness
To prove that you contracted COVID-19 from work conditions, you must prove that the nature of your job caused your illness. Also, you will need to prove that your job increased your risk of exposure. Finally, you will also have to prove that you contracted the illness due to a specific exposure while you were on the job.
This statement and criteria are especially applicable to individuals in the healthcare field or those who serve as first responders. Outside of those professions, it will most likely take the assistance of an experienced attorney to prove your case meets those two criteria. Now is the time to ask yourself, “Would I have been infected or contracted the disease, if not for my job?”
Worker’s Compensation and Contagious Disease
Some states rule out worker’s compensation coverage when employees contract a contagious disease from coworkers. This happens especially when employees have an increased risk of exposure outside of work. You should review your state’s specific workers’ compensation program or consult an attorney before filing a workers’ compensation claim due to COVID-19.
If you believe you have been infected with the virus due to your work environment, rather than the nature of your job, you may also have a legitimate claim. Companies unwilling to close their doors despite state orders for all nonessential businesses to do so or companies requiring employers to continue working in close quarters are a few examples. Again, it heavily depends on your state’s laws but some states take into consideration the conditions of your work environment.
Iowa Employee Resources
If worker’s compensation is not an option for you, there are still a number of resources available during this time. Many workers lost their jobs or have been furlowed due to pandemic response. However, the federal government is offering financial assistance to the general public, depending on your income level. For those residing in the state of Iowa, visit the Iowa Workforce Development for updates and resources regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The website provides information on unemployment insurance, temporary job openings, small business resources, and overall health updates on the coronavirus.
Contact Us Today
During this time, we are here for you. We are available via phone and email and are continuing to obtain justice for our clients. If you or a loved one has suffered from an illness, such as COVID-19, due to work conditions, contact the attorneys at Galligan Law today. Our personal injury attorneys are passionate about obtaining justice for people who have suffered unjustly. We are equally dedicated to preventing future injuries by holding responsible parties accountable. Call us today at (800) 217-9312 or visit us online to schedule your FREE case evaluation.