A pandemic is an outbreak of a disease that happens all across the world and affects a high proportion of the population. We are now living the pandemics of COVID-19 and witness how it changes our lives one day at a time. Most people had to leave their workplace and work from home, but there are workers who continue to go to work. This means that they’re exposed to the virus every day, risking getting sick and transmitting it to others as well.
How is the COVID-19 linked to workers’ compensation and is it in fact an illness that makes the worker eligible to get this settlement?
Two tests must be satisfied before any illness or disease (including the COVID-19) qualifies as occupational – the illness must be occupational and it should occur due to the work. Do this sound complex and you believe you have the right to compensation? It’s time to consult an Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney.
How the illness occurred and whether it arises from the course of employment mainly depends on the worker’s activities. If the employee was benefiting the employer when they were exposed to the illness, then the employee is eligible for workers’ compensation.
An occupational illness or disease means it’s “peculiar” to the work. If the illness or disease is not peculiar to the work, it won’t be considered occupational and the worker won’t get workers’ compensation. If the illness or disease is “peculiar” to the work then the employee is eligible for a workers’ compensation claim.
Let’s say a miner who worked long years in a coal mine ended up with lung disease. Their illness is considered peculiar, so the worker is eligible to get a workers’ compensation claim. Or, for example, a medical worker got infected with a deadly virus such as HIV as a result of contact with infected blood. The worker’s exposure to the disease is peculiar so they can collect the claim.
These factors will be considered by medical professionals and the court:
The timing of the symptoms in connection to work – Do symptoms worsen at work and improve after a prolonged absence from work (weekends);
- Symptoms – If co-workers show or have felt similar symptoms;
- Commonality – If such illness happens to workers in that particular industry;
- An employee’s predisposition to the illness
- The worker’s personal habits and medical history
Patients in poor medical conditions (smokers, employees with chronic disease, overweight, etc.) and with a family medical history in certain diseases have a higher risk to develop a disease or illness than other workers. Bad habits and poor medical history make affect the relationship between the occupation and the illness.
What About COVID-19?
The simple answer is that this virus (even though it created a pandemic) is not considered to be an occupational illness, although you can get infected at your workplace (no matter what profession you have). However, if it’s proven that the employee was exposed to a high risk of getting the virus because of the peculiarity of their job, then the COVID-19 can be considered as an occupational illness, so the worker can get compensation.
Healthcare workers can prove the necessary peculiarity, as they are in contact with infected patients every day, all day.
Policy That Responds to Qualifying Occupation Illnesses and Diseases
While the Coronavirus has a short gestation period, other occupational illnesses and diseases have long “gestation” periods. The employee may be exposed to harmful conditions for years before they develop the illness. It’s possible that the employee is not even aware that they have the disease; they learn about it years after their exposure in the risky environment ends. The workers’ compensation policy states that the policy in effect at the employee’s last exposure reacts to the illness — even if the employee is working for another employer or got retired at the time the disease manifested.
The COVID-19 Isn’t Special
Although we’re all in fear of the virus, it is not considered as an occupational illness even though you can get it at work. To be an occupational illness it should have something peculiar about your work and workplace that is increasing the risk of infection.
Most workers aren’t eligible to get a workers’ compensation claim if they get infected with the virus. However, if you’re a healthcare worker, as mentioned above, you can prove that your job puts you at risk of infections since you’re constantly treating patients.
Workers Compensation Lawyer Coalition will help you get your deserved claim.