Qualifying for Worker’s Compensation During COVID-19
Covid-19 is not an occupation-related illness unless you are a first responder or healthcare provider. If you are otherwise employed, you probably will not be qualified to receive worker’s compensation benefits. Any exceptions will be based on your circumstances or the state you live in.
What is an occupational disease?
Employers have always been required to compensate employees for illnesses or diseases caused by their occupation. Unlike the flu or common cold, COVID-19 is complicated.
Lawyers are going to have a difficult time proving that a job placed you at high risk or directly resulted in exposure. An attorney can prove you contracted the virus at work, but he or she must establish a causal link between your illness and the specific nature of your job. COVID-19 may be a global pandemic, but it will be difficult to provide medical evidence of workplace exposure.
What jobs are considered high risk?
Again, first responders and healthcare providers are on the frontline, and many still do not have proper protective equipment (PPE). Others, such as retail workers and airport security personnel, have a strong case. It is in the best interest of employers to prove that the illness is not related to work. Therefore, the provision of PPE is as important for them as it is for their employees.
Do workplace conditions put me at risk?
If you work for a company that is not cleaning its equipment properly, providing training or enforcing social distancing, the answer is yes. If a co-worker contracts the virus for any of these reasons, and you come in contact, the basis of your claim may be workplace conditions. New Jersey law states that worker’s compensation benefits can apply to occupational diseases directly caused by conditions that are specific to the place of employment.
How do I get help?
As always, you will need the help of an attorney if you plan to file a claim against your employer, especially if it is related to COVID-19. Emergency paid leave is currently being offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Contact us if you wish to file a COVID-related claim or have already been denied.
The Law Office of H. Benjamin Sharlin LLC
is owned and operated by H. Benjamin Sharlin and serves all of Mercer County, New Jersey and the surrounding areas. Mr. Sharlin is a bilingual Spanish-speaking attorney who vigorously represents the interests of all his clients.
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