With the recent pandemic sweeping the nation, you may be wondering what happens if you get COVID-19 and are unable to work. Here is what you need to know about how COVID-19 relates to your workers' compensation options.
1. First Responders May Qualify for Workers' Compensation
It is important to look at what your state is doing in terms of offering workers' compensation for COVID-19 patients. While many states do not typically cover illnesses that are spread in the community, exceptions are being made for COVID-19. This is especially true if you are a first responder or medical worker and putting yourself at risk to help others.
For example, California recently passed legislation that would allow workers to receive workers' compensation for having COVID-19 and removed the burden of proof on the employee for having to prove that it happened in the workplace. If you are unsure of your state's laws, make sure to work with a lawyer.
2. Workers' Compensation May Not Apply to All Cases
Depending on the circumstances, simply having COVID-19 may not be enough to justify a workers' compensation case. If you only had mild symptoms and missed a week of work, or had some downtime before transitioning to a work-from-home situation, this may not be enough to justify a claim. Some states have limits for how long you must be out of work to receive workers' compensation. This means that workers' compensation can only be used for cases where someone is hospitalized and recovering for several months after they return home.
You also need to prove you suffered some sort of losses in terms of medical bills and lost wages. If your employer worked with you by giving you paid time off to recover and you were not hospitalized, there are no losses for you to claim.
3. Court Closure May Delay Hearings
With COVID-19 shutting down many of the court systems, you can expect delays when trying to get a case heard by a judge if it is necessary. This can be problematic if you are seeking workers' compensation for financial relief, and the delays are causing problems with receiving compensation to improve your financial situation.
4. Lawyers Will Work with You Electronically
There are plenty of lawyers that will work with you over the phone, email, or video conferencing to get your case going and to answer any questions. COVID-19 may be contagious, but there are ways to work around in-person meetings.
If you need to make a workers comp claim, contact a lawyer as soon as you can.