Becoming injured or ill on the job is something most of us hope never happens. Unfortunately, it happens to millions of people each year. Now, imagine how much worse illness or an injury would be in the age of COVID-19. Not only is COVID-19 a risk factor for essential workers, but it also has significant meaning for workers who are injured or ill for any reason.
Essential workers are individuals who work in occupations that are essential to daily life and business. Grocery store clerks, bus drivers, nurses, police officers, firefighters – these are just a few examples of crucial workers who keep our country going. But what happens when an essential worker develops COVID-19 on the job? Does he or she qualify for workers’ compensation? The answer to that depends on the occupation, the individual’s role, and the state where they live and work.
Essential workers may have a strong claim for workers’ compensation if they work directly around people who have tested positive for COVID-19, such as hospital patients or nursing home residents. Unfortunately, these claims are new to the workers’ compensation system. Many states are working to implement new laws or clarify existing laws, especially as they pertain to workers deemed essential who may not ordinarily qualify for workers’ compensation if they got sick at work.
Generally, the workers’ compensation process takes weeks, or sometimes months, to complete. That means that the injured worker may have to struggle for a time before coverage kicks in to help cover expenses and supplement income.
This is a huge problem that could negatively impact workers and their families. In response, numerous advocates are calling on lawmakers to pass presumptive workers’ compensation coverage. This coverage would allow essential workers who develop COVID-19 on the job to have their claims processed more quickly. It also would prevent them from having to endure a protracted appeals process.
When workers are already struggling and attempting to recover physically, the last thing they need is the added stress of a lengthy or tedious workers’ compensation process. Of course, workers will have to prove that they developed COVID-19 at work, which is why it is vital to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney before filing a claim. If you have questions or need help, contact The Law Offices of Dennis R. Fusi & Associates.