Worker’s compensation claims have grown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the main reasons for this is the deviation from standard rules on what is usually deemed hazardous. We are now in a very unique time, and although community-spread illnesses would not normally qualify because they are not typically tied to the workplace, the pandemic opens a door where employees can become exposed in the workplace, essentially creating an infection-prone environment where workers are significantly affected.
There are many jobs now deemed essential, but hazardous conditions resulting in COVID does not guarantee coverage under workers’ compensation. It really depends on the state where you reside. There is some confusion on who will receive coverage and who won’t. In the state of South Carolina, most businesses that have three or more workers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This helps employees with their financial obligations and expenses after suffering an injury or illness on the job.
Although there are many instances where employees are required to come to work, that does not mean you will be covered under workers’ compensation. It may be difficult to prove you became sick in the work environment. For those who work in the medical field, it may be easier to file a claim. In the event someone else in the office has contracted COVID and then you become sick as a result, chances are you will have a stronger basis for a claim.
What is covered under a workers’ compensation claim?
If your workers’ compensation claim is approved as a result of contracting COVID, there are a few options:
- Temporary Partial Disability: COVID has forced you to temporarily work in a lesser-paying role. This will qualify you for temporary partial disability benefits that cover the deficit between your standard and reduced pay.
- Permanent Total Disability: COVID affects everyone differently, and there are instances where you may not be able to work again in the near future or at all. In these instances, you may be eligible for permanent total disability benefits to indefinitely replace your lost income.
- Medical: If you contracted COVID and had to be treated at a hospital or medical facility, you should be eligible for medical benefits. These are reimbursements for any out of pocket expenses incurred.
- Rehabilitative Care Benefits: After contracting COVID, recovery can be tough. If you need therapy during the recuperation period, chances are you will be eligible for rehabilitative care benefits that cover the cost of ongoing treatment.
In addition to meeting certain criteria, it is important to file any COVID-related workers’ compensation claims within the time specified. You should notify your employer within 30 days. If you are sick, they should be notified via email which will also serve as evidence to back your claim. If you cannot go to work due to contracting COVID and your employer has been notified, but they do not respond to your claim, you may have to take additional action. This is one of the main reasons why working with a worker’s comp attorney from the very beginning is so important.
Contracting COVID-19 does not mean you will automatically receive workers’ compensation benefits even if you feel you were exposed and are entitled to them. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can help to determine if you have a case before you are denied.
Don’t go through the process alone! The team at Ryan Montgomery Law can provide the assistance you need with an experienced workers comp attorney. For more information on filing a claim due to COVID-19, contact us today!