When workers in the United States started to realize COVID-19 would take over every aspect of our lives, our jobs became much more complicated.
All of a sudden, teachers and grocery store workers realized that they’d signed up for serious health risks they hadn’t thought about before. First responders and healthcare workers were putting themselves in the line of danger in a new way.
In the midst of all this, worker protections are becoming increasingly important. Things like workers’ compensation are, many times, the only kind of protection a worker might have. So, can you get workers’ compensation for COVID-19?
In many cases, the answer is yes. We’ll walk you through the details.
Not everyone in the United States will have the same access to worker’s compensation benefits. One difference between cases is the state you’re working in. Many states have adjusted their policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but not every state has made adjustments to the same extent.
What Direction Are the Changes Going In?
Some states have changed their policies to make it easier for workers to get worker’s compensation. COVID-19 is different from many workplace health risks because you can get it from things as seemingly harmless as a doorknob or the air itself. For this reason, it can be almost impossible to tell where you contracted it.
If you’re still going to in-person work during the pandemic though, this might be the only time you leave the house and stay in contact with people outside the home. So, if you get sick, it makes sense to assume it was from work.
What Do the Changes Look Like?
For an example of a state that has leaned on the side of higher worker protections, take a look at California’s policies. The governor, Gavin Newsom, issued an executive order back in May stating a time frame of a few months where it would be assumed that any worker who contracted the Coronavirus would have likely gotten it from the workplace.
This policy applied to all worker’s compensation programs in the state, so it wasn’t limited to a certain type of job. As you’ll read later on, this isn’t always the case.
The Burden of Proof
If you get sick sometime while working or shortly after an in-person work commitment, you should consider whether you could’ve contracted Coronavirus on the job. If the timing makes sense, you might have a successful worker’s compensation claim on your hands.
In most worker’s compensation cases, the burden of proof is on the side of the worker. You have to show how your illness or health issue arose from the workplace. As you’ve read in the case of California, though, new COVID-19 policies are changing the process.
If you live in a state that has a special pandemic policy, you might have an easier time filing your claim. These policies often lower the burden of proof on the worker. This takes away a good deal of confusion and gray area since it’s often hard to tell how a highly contagious virus got to you.
Worker’s Compensation Benefits
Once your worker’s compensation claim is approved, you’d be entitled to a few benefits. For example, your job would continue to pay you for the time you’d spend on quarantine. These are called time-loss payments, and they’ll stop once you no longer need to be on quarantine – like if you’ve tested positive for Coronavirus and then test negative after several days staying at home.
Your employer would also cover any treatment that you’d need to undergo to recover from COVID-19. The unfortunate thing here is that the only treatment you could get would be treatment of symptoms rather than a fast-acting cure. This is just due to limitations of our current scientific knowledge of COVID-19.
The nice thing, though, is that if your employer is paying for your treatment, you won’t have to worry so much about the financial stress of coming down with the illness. You can just focus on getting better.
Type of Job
You might have a better chance of getting a successful worker’s compensation claim if you’re an essential worker. These jobs have special protections during the pandemic, and for good reason. Plenty of essential workers have gotten sick on the job, especially if they work in high-exposure fields like healthcare.
Some of the state coverage policies during the pandemic are limited to certain kinds of workers, like healthcare workers and first responders.
Even if you’re not officially designated as an “essential worker,” though, if you’re working in person during the pandemic, you are indeed putting a lot on the line. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to put together a claim that will get you the coverage you need, you might want to get the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer, like Fusco Brandenstein group.
Get the Protections You Need!
As a worker during the pandemic, you might have felt like you didn’t have a lot of control in the decisions surrounding your workplace. Would you continue in-person work or work from home? Would you be part of a re-opening, even if you didn’t like the health risks?
If, after all of these changes, you realized that you contracted the virus, workers’ compensation is one way you can get the benefits you need. Don’t be afraid to file a claim – check your state’s policies to see if they’ve made the process easier at all.
And for more on how politics has affected our health and everyday life, check out the rest of our site!