If you get injured on the job and the injury is not your fault, you might be entitled to file for workers' compensation. Sometimes though, your employer might try to fight the case, at which point you would want to consider bringing in a workers' compensation attorney. Traditionally, a workers' comp claim is made after a physical injury is suffered. But there's nothing traditional about the times we live in today. With a pandemic sweeping the nation, you may be wondering if you could pursue a workers' compensation claim after contracting COVID-19, otherwise known as the coronavirus, while at work. Here's what you need to know.
Do Workers' Compensation Laws Include Diseases?
The answer to that question is, "it depends" and "maybe." First, understand that every state may have different laws or requirements on the books as to what is and is not covered by workers' comp laws in your specific state. This is why you will want to hire an attorney sooner rather than later because a good lawyer will be already familiar with what your state laws say.
The second thing you need to know is that it's not completely clear cut right now as to whether or not the coronavirus qualifies as something that is eligible to be covered, simply because it's still so new and there isn't a lot of legal precedent out there yet. Many states do say that a worker can pursue a claim if they contract an "occupational disease," but those same laws often also specifically rule out regular illnesses like the flu. COVID-19 is clearly not just the flu, but it's clear that the coronavirus falls within a bit of a legal gray area right now. Your lawyer may be able to examine the laws and the merits of your case and steer you towards the best possible decision.
Can You Rule Out Contracting COVID-19 Elsewhere?
If you do intend to pursue a workers' comp case against your employer, your employer might respond by saying it's impossible to know that you contracted it while at work. But if you generally have done a great job of quarantining yourself and staying out of public besides when you go to work, you may be able to demonstrate that it's at least more likely than not that the transmission of the disease could have happened at work.
Did Your Employer Not Follow Local Laws Regarding the Virus?
Your best bet for success with a workers' compensation claim related to the coronavirus may be if you can prove that your employer did not follow local or state laws around COVID-19. Were you in a position where you had frequent contact with the public but you were told not to wear a mask? Did your company not do a good job of regularly sanitizing the workspace or working to ensure social distancing between customers and employees?
Contact a workers' compensation attorney today for more information.