If I get COVID-19 at work, am I eligible for workers’ compensation?
If an employee contracts the virus for any work-related reason, he or she could possibly be eligible for workers’ compensation. This will depend on where the employee works/what their position entails. If the employee is a first responder or health care worker, then it is likely yes that he or she may be eligible for workers’ compensation. For other workers, a worker’s compensation claim is feasible, but there would have to be several facts to support the claim.
Workers’ compensation claimants need to prove that the contraction of the virus took place at work and was caused by working at the location of the employer. Although COVID-19 is not an injury, it is described under state law to determine if it is an “occupational disease.” For it to be categorized as an occupational disease, an employee must prove the following:
- The illness/disease derived from the workplace
- The illness/disease must arise out of or be caused by conditions unusual to the work and creates a threat of contracting the disease to a greater degree and in a contrasting manner than in the public generally.
The biggest test to figure out whether an injury/illness “derives out of and within the course of employment” is whether the worker was involved in some activity where he or she was serving the employer and was exposed to the virus. As mentioned earlier, it is possible there will be more consideration dealt with health care providers and first responders as these individuals could contract the virus as a result of their occupation.
For all other employees, a workers’ compensation claim will be monitored on a case-by-case analysis. The key essence will be whether the worker became infected with the virus at work and whether or not the contraction of the virus was “unusual” to their employment. For any employee who is filing a workers’ compensation claim due to COVID-19, he or she must be able to show medical evidence to support their claim.
To conclude, COVID-19 is spreading across the United States rapidly. It will become more and more challenging to prove that one’s workplace was the sole source of exposure rather than exposure from the public. If an employee can prove that they have contracted COVID-19 specifically from their work environment, it’s important to provide benefits to these employees for the time they are quarantined.