Coronavirus has affected many businesses across the country. Many employees are wondering if they will go to work or if they will work from home. The answer to this question will depend on your employer. For workers in retail outlets, restaurants and other locations, cannot work from home which raises a very important question…
Can they get workers’ compensation if they contract Coronavirus at work? In this article we will break down to you the basics of workers’ compensation insurance and if it will cover you in case you contract the virus at work.
The Basics of Workers Compensation
Workers’ compensation is an insurance that covers employees who become injured or get ill at work. It covers:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages
- Death benefits
Workers’ Compensation Insurance and Coronavirus
Coronavirus is considered an illness and not an injury so coverage is determined by state law. If an illness is prevalent in the public community, it becomes difficult to prove. Workers’ compensation only covers claims that are considered to be work related and peculiar to the work environment or to the job.
Illness must be Work Related
This simply means that you must have contracted Coronavirus at work. You must prove that you were doing activities related to your job when you contracted the virus. This means that if you contracted the virus while on your commute to work or during a lunch break, you won’t be compensated.
It’s very difficult to prove that you contracted the virus at work because you will need to describe the specific event or show the point at which you contracted it.
Coronavirus has an incubation period of 2-14 days so proving where you contracted the virus will be a challenge. Additionally, the virus is prevalent in the pubic community so establishing that you contracted it at work will be a challenge.
Illness must be Peculiar to the Work
This means that due to the nature of your working conditions or work, there is a higher risk of contracting Coronavirus. This means that only certain types of professions can claim illness under workers’ compensation.
Workers’ Compensation May not Cover Coronavirus
As Coronavirus continues to become serious, the number of claims under workers’ compensation will increase. You can present a very good argument to support your claim but it’s doubtful insurance carriers will approve it. Insurers know that accepting such a claim would be opening the door to all sorts of claims from professionals in different industries.
If you are a health worker or a first responder then you are entitled to workers’ compensation if you contract Coronavirus.
What Workers’ Compensation Benefits can You Get for Contracting Coronavirus?
If you have been diagnosed with Coronavirus and your symptoms are mild, you may not require hospitalization and you’ll be allowed to recover on your own from home. In such a situation, there would be no medical expenses but you will be compensated for lost wages.
Workers’ compensation benefits might begin after you have been out of work for a certain period of time due to your illness. If your workplace is closed due to the pandemic, it would be challenging to calculate when your benefits will end. Since this is something that is new to the legal system, it’s advisable that you contract a workers’ compensation lawyer who will help you understand and protect what you are entitled to.
What Precautions is My Employer Supposed to Take to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus?
Below are some of the actions your employer must take:
- They must provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees who are at risk of contracting the virus
- They must limit the number of people who are at the workplace at any given time
- They should require employees to stay at home if they have any symptoms of the virus
- They should require employees to stay home if they have been in contact with anyone who has Coronavirus
How can You File a Coronavirus Workers’ Compensation Claim?
If you believe you contracted Coronavirus while at work, you might be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Consider talking to a workers’ compensation lawyer first before filing for a workers’ compensation claim. This is because Coronavirus has introduced new aspects to workers’ compensation claims and you might end up not getting compensated because your rights weren’t protected.
If you live in Providence, RI, we have a team of experienced and skilled workers compensation lawyers who are more than ready to help. Contact us at 401-751-0101 for a free initial consultation.