COVID-19 and Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation laws are in place to safeguard employees dealing with job-related illnesses or injuries. These laws ensure that employees who suffer injuries on the job receive benefits covering lost wages, medical expenses, and rehabilitation costs.

The ongoing impact of COVID-19 has raised questions about whether workers can claim compensation if they contract the virus while on the job.

Can I receive Workers’ Compensation for contracting COVID-19 while working?

Yes, employees in New York State can potentially receive Workers’ Compensation benefits for COVID-19 exposure during employment. However, each case is unique, and specific details will determine eligibility. Importantly, immigration status does not affect eligibility for Workers’ Compensation.

What benefits are available?

Workers’ Compensation provides coverage for medical treatment related to work-related illnesses or injuries, along with wage replacement benefits. In case a condition leads to the inability to perform work tasks or results in death, benefits may extend to the employee’s surviving family or cover capped funeral expenses.

What proof is needed to establish COVID-19 exposure at work?

Employees may need to demonstrate that their COVID-19 claim is work-related. While it might be challenging for individuals to pinpoint when they were exposed, showing a significantly higher risk of exposure at the workplace, especially in environments where COVID-19 is more prevalent, strengthens the case. Those working closely with the public, such as healthcare workers, first responders, and others, are more likely to have a valid claim.

If you suspect exposure at work, filing a claim should include details about your employment, work frequency, and responsibilities, particularly if you have direct contact with the public. Providing a medical report from an authorized Workers’ Compensation medical provider linking your work to COVID-19 is crucial, and a positive test result supports the claim.

How do I file a claim?

Inform your employer in writing, through email or documented communication, about your illness. Use the Employee Claim (Form C-3) available on the Workers’ Compensation Board’s website to report the incident. Seek medical attention promptly, either in emergencies or through an authorized Workers’ Compensation physician. File your positive COVID-19 test result, or ask your physician to file it along with Form C-3.

What happens after filing a claim?

The Workers’ Compensation insurance company or administrator will review and, if accepted, your claim becomes compensable. A Workers’ Compensation Board judge may intervene in case of disputes, evaluating testimonies, workplace details, and the extent of COVID-19 exposure.

How long does the claim process take?

Swiftly reporting your illness to your employer is crucial for timely action by the insurer. The Board will start paying claims when the insurer accepts the claim, usually within 18 days of the incident or ten days from notice. Hearings may be held if disputes arise to ensure prompt benefit payments.

Benefits during COVID-19 Quarantine Leave

Different rules apply based on the size of the employer. Employers with ten or fewer employees or those with a net income less than a million provide job protection during COVID-19 quarantine leave. Employers with larger staff may offer additional paid leave and benefits.

Employers are advised to check with their payroll departments regarding COVID-19 premium-related reductions and explore possible reimbursements for personal protective equipment (PPE). Staying informed about COVID-19 rules from the Department of Labor and the Workers’ Compensation Board is crucial.

Advocates for Injured Workers

For handling complex claims and fatalities, an ombudsman is available to assist employees. This advocate reports directly to the Chair of the agency, offering support and guidance.

For additional details, individuals can refer to their state’s Workers’ Compensation Board website or consult with a Workers’ Compensation attorney. Stay informed about the evolving COVID-19 rules by visiting relevant authorities’ websites.

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