Workers’ Compensation And COVID 19
Healthcare and other workers in occupations with potential exposure to Coronavirus are at an increased risk of contracting COVID 19. If you or a family member became ill due to Coronavirus exposure at work, contact the Gills Law Firm to learn about your rights under Workers’ Compensations laws.
COVID 19 is a severe, acute respiratory syndrome caused by the Coronavirus. It is impacting all areas of our lives including exposure at work.
Compensability for Coronavirus under the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Act falls under the category of an Occupational Disease.
An Occupation Disease in Connecticut is defined under C.G.S. 31-275(15) “Occupational Disease”, includes any disease peculiar to the occupation in which the employee was engaged and due to causes in excess of the ordinary hazards of employment.
The employee has the burden of proving that their exposure to COVID 19 at work caused their illness of the Coronavirus.
In the case of a healthcare worker who works at a hospital where patients have COVID 19, the ability to prove the causal connection is more likely than not as an Occupational Disease includes any disease peculiar to the occupation in which the employee was engaged and due to causes in excess of the ordinary hazards of employment.
The current issue under the Workers’ Compensation Act is how far will the Workers’ Compensation Commission go in deciding which occupations give rise to a substantial risk for exposure to COVID 19 and find that exposure and infection with Coronavirus is an Occupational Disease.
Do grocery store workers inundated with customers, drug store workers’ with sick individuals, food delivery employees going to unknown infected residences as well as many other occupations beyond just healthcare workers give rise to the presumption of an Occupational Disease.
Workers in occupations in which the hazards to an Occupational Disease do not normally exist will need to prove actual exposure. Causal connection can be based on medical experts opinions in combination with facts surrounding the alleged exposure such as a coworker with whom one had interaction contracted Coronavirus.
Clearly for occupations outside the healthcare industry, it will be more difficult to prove compensability.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
As in all work related injuries for which compensability is found, including COVID 19, an employee is entitled to benefits under the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Act. Those benefits include:
- Medical treatment for Coronavirus;
- Lost wages during the period of time you are unable to work and may be quarantined;
- A monetary award for any permanent injuries you sustain, for mild cases there may be no permanent injuries, but for more severe cases , permanent lung and heart damage may occur. In addition, death benefits may be applicable as studies show a mortality rate of 1% to 3% of those who contract the Coronavirus.
Compensability of a COVID 19 cases will be determined on a case by case basis.
If you would like more information, contact Gillis Law Firm, your Connecticut COVID 19/Coronavirus Workers’ Compensation Law Firm for those who have been exposed to COVID 19 and have the contracted the Coronavirus while at work.