The coronavirus pandemic has caused turmoil for millions of Americans. State and local legislators have tried to keep up with the numerous challenges related to the covid-19 pandemic. One of those challenges involves workers’ compensation. Most employers in the United States are required by law to purchase workers’ compensation insurance that will benefit workers who become injured on the job. Every state has its laws regarding workers’ compensation.
Many workers who had to return to work during the pandemic are concerned about whether they will qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if they become ill with the coronavirus at work. If you are a worker who has contracted the coronavirus, or you are still dealing with the side effects of coronavirus, you may be able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.
Find Out Whether Your Employer Has to Offer Workers’ Compensation
The first step is to learn about your state’s workers’ compensation laws. Under your state laws, does your employer have to carry workers’ compensation insurance? If your employer is required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance and fails to do so, your employer may violate state law, and you may have a right to bring an action against your employer. Some states require virtually all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, while others limit the requirement to larger businesses in certain industries.
If your employer provides workers’ compensation insurance, the next step is to review your employer’s workers’ compensation policies carefully. If you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, you will be entitled to insurance coverage for your doctor’s appointment and wage replacement compensation for your lost time at work. In many cases, employers and their insurance companies may try to deny your claim, even though you should qualify for benefits under your employer’s plan. If this happens, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Most states have court systems that are dedicated to hearing and deciding workers’ compensation benefits claims. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate the process effectively.
Does Your Employer’s Policy Cover COVID-19?
Many people around the country are wondering whether workers’ compensation benefits cover COVID-19. The answer is often complicated. In most cases, workers’ compensation policies have not covered routine illnesses like the flu or common cold because it’s challenging to tie them directly to the workplace. The flu and colds are incredibly common. Workers can catch them nearly anywhere, not just while at work because they spread so quickly. The coronavirus is similar because it spreads incredibly quickly. It is difficult to track where people catch it. However, the coronavirus is somewhat different because it is more deadly than the common cold or the flu. There is a precedent for workers’ compensation policies covering employees who have been exposed to harmful materials and environments over time and develop respiratory illness or lung conditions.
You may be able to contend that those policies should cover long damage and long-term issues related to the coronavirus. Additionally, workers who have been deemed essential because they work in health care, grocery stores, mechanic shops, and other essential businesses are at a greater risk of exposure to the coronavirus while they are at work. Nonetheless, a high rate of exposure does not guarantee those coronavirus complications will be covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation policy.
Has Your State Passed Coronavirus Legislation?
Has your state taken legislative action to pass a law protecting workers who contract Coronavirus? So far, at least 14 states across the country have enacted legislation that requires workers’ compensation coverage to include coronavirus as a work-related illness. Six states have gone so far as to pass laws creating a presumption that some workers who contract coronavirus should be covered. Wisconsin, Utah, Minnesota, and Alaska all limit coverage to first responders and healthcare workers. On the contrary, Illinois and Wyoming require all essential workers to be protected by workers’ compensation benefits. Kentucky and California have used executive action from their governors to provide essential workers with workers’ compensation insurance.
Obtaining Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Long-Term Disability
The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has reported on the potential prevalence of workers’ compensation benefits and lung disease claims. They reported that only a small percentage of people diagnosed with coronavirus would end up having permanent disability claims. They have calculated that approximately 3% of workers who have severe coronavirus cases will need to receive permanent total disability benefits. Additionally, 40% will receive permanent partial disability benefits.
When a worker has a moderate coronavirus case, the report assumes that 20% of them would receive permanent partial disability benefits. Overall, the reports determine that most workers, 90%, who file coronavirus related workers compensation claims will only suffer mild cases and result in a very low rate of permanent disability. In a previous study, the NCCI reported that they assumed that 8.5% of workers who filed claims would need hospitalization for their moderate symptoms. In comparison, only 1.5% of those who filed claims would end up requiring critical care and developing severe cases of Coronavirus.
Overall, the NCCI has reported that there is only a 2.3% chance that a reported coronavirus workers’ compensation claim will result in a permanent partial injury. Only a .05% chance exists that the coronavirus workers’ compensation claim will result in a permanent total injury.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If the coronavirus has severely impacted you, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. Proving that you contracted coronavirus at your workplace and recovering benefits will not be easy, but with an experienced lawyer on your side, you will have the best chance possible of obtaining the benefits you deserve. Contact Stanley Law Offices today to schedule your free initial consultation to learn how we can advocate for you.