With hundreds of thousands of cases in the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a severe toll on American workers. Employees on the front lines give their all while, quite literally, risking their lives and livelihoods. What happens if you contract COVID-19 at work? Does a work-related COVID-19 diagnosis make you eligible for workers’ compensation benefits? Do you have the necessary legal documents in place to protect yourself and your family?
Information and guidelines surrounding these questions change often, and we’re committed to providing you with the most up-to-date information to help build your case. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team and schedule a free consultation.
COVID-19 and Workers Compensation
Employees on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, who become ill with COVID-19, are presumed to have contracted the illness at work if they work in one of the following occupations.
- A licensed peace officer, a firefighter, a paramedic or an emergency medical technician (EMT)
- A nurse or health care worker, correctional officer or security counselor employed by the state or a political subdivision (such as a city or county) at a corrections, detention or secure treatment facility
- A health care provider, nurse or assistive employee employed in a health care, home care or long-term care setting, with direct COVID-19 patient care or ancillary work in COVID-19 patient units
(Note: the law does not define “assistive employee” or “ancillary work,” so it is important to contact a workers’ compensation attorney for clarification)
- A person required to provide childcare to first responders and health care workers under Executive Order 20-02 and Executive Order 20-19
Thank You, Front Line Workers – But What About Everyone Else?
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is widespread, affecting far more people than just those on the front lines. What about everyone else? An employee who does not work in an occupation on the front lines can still file an “occupational illness” workers’ compensation claim if they contract COVID-19 at work. We advise these employees to take the following actions.
- Notify your employer as soon as possible after you develop symptoms that could be COVID-19.
- Seek medical attention and request a test for COVID-19.
- Keep a record of your symptoms, their progression, any medical appointments or treatment, and when you notified your employer.
- Provide a copy of the test results or diagnosis to your employer or your employer’s work comp insurer.
- Contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for assistance in building your case.
Important Legal Documents
What happens if you suddenly fall ill or are injured in a catastrophic accident? Have you selected a Power of Attorney (POA) to make medical decisions on your behalf? Have you outlined a health care directive to ensure you receive care according to your wishes in the event that you cannot advocate for yourself? Yes, if you’re married your spouse can act on your behalf, but what if your spouse is also ill or gets injured in the same accident? Having a POA and a healthcare directive in place is the best way to protect your wishes.
These important considerations have been amplified by the pandemic. It has never been more important to ensure you have legal documents in place to protect yourself and your family. Please use the forms below and work with your attorney to be sure your wishes carried out.
Trust Your Legal Team
At Schroeder & Mandel, we know that the COVID-19 situation is complicated and changing quickly, and we’re here to help employees navigate work comp claims. We want you to have access to the care and finances you need to get better, so you can get back to work and, more importantly, enjoy your life to the fullest. Contact us today for a free consultation.