Occupational Disease Compensation and COVID-19

Occupational Disease Compensation and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has created struggles for many people. If you contract the virus, you’ll likely be in quarantine for a significant amount of time. This situation means you will be unable to work in order to recover and to reduce the risk of transmission to others. So, many employees are asking the question: Will I get paid for the time I lose?

A person qualifies for Occupational Disease Compensation when the illness contracted occurs out of and in the course of employment. You must meet several factors to qualify. 

If you contract COVID-19, it could be covered under Maryland law.

What is an Occupational Illness/Disease?

Occupational illnesses and diseases are covered under NRS Chapter 617. To be considered an occupational illness, the following criteria must be met. 

  • There is a direct connection between work conditions and occupational illness.
  • The occupational illness arose as a natural occurrence of the work performed resulting from the exposure resulting from the nature of the job. 
  • The illness(es) can be traced through the workplace as the proximate cause. 
  • The illness doesn’t result from a workplace hazard of which workers would be equally exposed outside employment. 

There has to be a direct connection from your work to COVID-19 exposure. Just because you contract the illness does not mean you will receive coverage. However, if you work in healthcare or as a first responder, contracting COVID-19 while employed, you will likely be covered by workers’ compensation. 

What Do You Do If You Contract COVID-19 While Employed?

If you test positive for COVID-19 and are convinced it resulted from your employment, you need to take specific steps to make sure workers’ compensation covers you specifically. 

You first need to report it to your supervisor within seven days of receiving your test results. You can complete a form called Notice of Accident/Illness (C-1) form. You also need to obtain medical care within 90 days of receiving your test results. You must complete and submit a Claim for Compensation (C-4). This form will document your treatment. 

Those with COVID-19 typically make a full recovery, however some do have long-term effects. Typically, workers’ compensation will provide coverage of your medical expenses and your lost time from employment. 

What If You’re a First Responder or Healthcare Worker?

If you work as a first responder or healthcare worker, your job places you on the frontlines of COVID-19, and you contract the illness, your job should cover you. You should include your medical care and your time lost on your job in that coverage. With that said, there are specific steps you should take to help protect your claim. 

What About Possible Exposures?

When required to come in close contact with a person who may have COVID-19, you should document the exposure in your CAD file, incident/crime report, or other medical documentation. This likely means that the person you came in contact with is experiencing flu-like or cold symptoms is known to have been exposed but has not been diagnosed with the virus. 

Make sure you track the potential exposure incidents for easy reference in the future. You never know when they might become necessary. However, you likely don’t need to complete a Notice of Incident/Illness (C-1) form if you’re exposed to someone who only may have the virus but has not been not diagnosed. 

What About Known Exposures?

If you are exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and you were not protected, within six feet of the person, had to go “hands on,” or were sneezed or coughed on, you should fill out a Notice of Accident/Illness (C-1) form immediately. You should complete it within seven days after the exposure. 

You should also set a reminder to file a Claim for Compensation (C-4) form within 90 days if it becomes necessary. Keep in mind that a C-1 form isn’t a claim for workers’ compensation but simply notifies your employer that there was an incident where you had exposure to an occupational illness. 

What Do You Do If You Contract COVID-19?

Upon being diagnosed with COVID-19, you should immediately fill out a Notice of Accident/Illness (C-1) form. If your illness doesn’t require medical care or result in lost time from work, you do not need to file a Claim for Compensation (C-4) form. 

If your illness progresses and later requires medical care and time lost from work, you should file the C-4 form. You have 90 days to file the claim, so make sure you adhere to that time frame. Set yourself a reminder to do so if your illness progresses. 

Talk to an Attorney

At Sundquist Law Firm, we specialize in helping employees in Minnesota find resolution when their employer fails to take care of them.

COVID-19 has introduced many complexities in employer/employee relationships. Therefore, it’s important to know what your rights are and can seek restitution if needed.

Contact us today to see how we can help you.