• Nathalie S. Pettit

WC Coverage for COVID-19

COVID-19 is a novel virus and was classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a worldwide pandemic. COVID-19 and the flu are two different illnesses. The mortality rate for COVID-19 is estimated at about 3.4%, compared to 0.1% for the flu. In addition, COVID-19 may cause permanent lung damage and/or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a severe lung condition in which fluid collects in the lungs' air sacs.

Workers’ compensation (WC) claims from health care providers and first responders involving COVID-19 will most likely be presumed compensable. Other claims that meet certain criteria may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

In most cases, COVID-19 should not be deemed compensable unless the worker has a greater likelihood of contracting the disease because of the job (examples include first responders or health care workers). There must also be a documented or probable work-related exposure. Consider:

1. Was there an increased risk or greater likelihood of contracting the condition due to the worker's job (such as a first responder or health care worker)?

2. If not for their job, would the worker have been exposed to the virus or contracted the condition?

3. Can the worker identify a specific source or event during the performance of his job that resulted in exposure to COVID-19 (examples include a first responder or health care worker who actually treated a patient with COVID-19)?

If the above criteria are not met, it is not necessary to file a WC claim; however, a claim may still be filed if requested by the worker or if it is uncertain whether the criteria are met.

When contraction of COVID-19 is incidental to the workplace or common to all employment, a claim for exposure to and contraction of the disease may be denied.

Workers exposed to COVID-19 on the job (a documented, work-related exposure) should submit the appropriate accident report form to coordinate/determine payment of testing and quarantine (by a public health officer or physician) because of the on the job exposure.

The above information is for educational purposes only and based on my opinion concerning this novel issue. It provides general information, but should not be construed as specific legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship created and this information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

For specific questions, please feel free to reach out to us at the Law Office of Nathalie S. Pettit, Inc. We are here for you.

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