Employees who contract the coronavirus at work will be hard pressed to file a successful workers’ compensation claim, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. At issue is whether they are able to prove that they caught the virus at work.
While claims specify unsafe work conditions as causes of COVID-19 infections, businesses argue that workers were most likely exposed to the virus during off hours and the onus is on the employee to establish that there was no other known source of infection, reported the article. Because this is difficult to prove, many claims are denied.
While no comprehensive database exists on denials directly related to COVID-19, the report stated that numbers from several states suggest “the majority of COVID-19 claims have been relatively inexpensive for insurance companies.” This is true even in states which have passed laws giving “a presumption of eligibility” for workers’ comp to professions such, as nursing and firefighting. The presumption allows certain professionals to file claims without having to prove they got COVID-19 on the job.
Claims for COVID-19 are different than typical workers’ compensation claims. Traditional claims involve accidents or injuries. COVID-19 is a disease that may or may not be associated with an occupation. For example, you cannot sue your employer for catching the flu from your coworker, but a firefighter contracting a respiratory illness while fighting a fire can file a claim. In that case, his condition is an occupational disease. No such determination has been made about COVID-19 and work environments.
If you believe you were hurt on the job and the injury is because of an unsafe work environment or someone’s negligence, it may help to talk to an attorney experienced in workplace accidents. Since our firm is recognized as a leader in litigating workplace injury and negligence cases in Pennsylvania, we welcome you to reach out to us.