Workers’ Compensation Benefits for COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic took the country by storm, shutting down most businesses for months. Over time, as the vaccines rolled out and people learned safer ways to get out and about, businesses started to re-open. However, this put many workers at risk of exposure, which raises the question of whether someone can obtain workers’ compensation benefits for COVID-19. While the state’s workers’ compensation laws provide ways for workers diagnosed with COVID-19 to receive benefits, these cases are notoriously challenging. The dedicated North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers at the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, are up-to-date on the latest developments and can help you determine if you have a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.Can You Get Workers’ Compensation Benefits for COVID-19 in North Carolina?
Yes, it is possible to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits after a work-related case of COVID-19. However, as is the case with all occupational diseases, it is the employee’s burden to prove that their case of COVID-19 is compensable.
To successfully bring a workers’ comp claim arising out of a COVID-19 diagnosis, a worker can either claim their diagnosis was an “occupational disease” or an “injury by accident.” To bring a claim for benefits under the occupational disease framework, you must prove the following:
- Your employment exposed you to a greater risk of contracting the disease than the general public, and
- Your employment caused you to contract the disease.
In other words, it is not enough to prove that you caught COVID-19 at work; you must also show that your job duties put you at a greater risk of contracting the disease. For example, most would agree that nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers have a much greater chance of getting COVID-19 based on their job descriptions. However, even then, these cases are tough because the general public is at such a high risk of contracting COVID-19.
The other way to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for COVID-19 is to file an “injury by accident” claim. To successfully bring this type of claim, you must prove you contracted COVID-19 due to an accident arising out of, and occurring in the course of, your employment.
In either type of claim, you need to establish that your case of COVID-19 was caused by your employment. While it is easy to assume that is the case, proving that you were exposed at work and that this exposure resulted in your diagnosis is tricky. This is especially true with COVID-19, which is highly contagious and ever-present throughout society. Thus, workers should expect that their employers will initially deny their claims, necessitating an appeal to the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
While bringing a workers’ compensation claim for a case of COVID-19 is challenging, it is not impossible. Additionally, the court system has yet to adapt to the new realities of life in the post-COVID world. Thus, it is possible that the workers’ compensation laws pertaining to COVID-19 could change in the near future. In the meantime, if you caught COVID-19 at work, it is essential that you act quickly to preserve your right to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. You only have two years from the date of your diagnosis to bring a claim; otherwise, you will be unable to do so.Were You Exposed to COVID-19 at Work?
If you recently contracted COVID-19 at work and are wondering whether you can receive workers’ compensation benefits for COVID-19, reach out to the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC. At the Olsinski Law Firm, we have decades of experience connecting injured workers to meaningful compensation, allowing them the time they need to heal so they can get back to work. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer, give us a call at 704-405-2580. You can also reach one of our Concord workers’ compensation lawyers at 704-918-4747. We take all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis, meaning we will not bill you for our services unless we can connect you with compensation for what you’ve been through.