Just as the rest of the world has had to adapt to living with COVID-19, so too has the Workers’ Compensation Board. If you believe you have contracted COVID-19 at your workplace, you may have a compensable Workers’ Compensation claim.
Most people will not be able to point to a specific moment when they contracted COVID-19 at the workplace. You may have a compensable claim if a significantly elevated risk of contracting COVID-19 existed in your workplace. You must show the nature and extent of your work in an environment where COVID-19 was prevalent, which must include close contact with coworkers or the public. The Board has recognized that first responders, heath care workers, transport workers, corrections officers, and food service workers have a greater chance of contracting the disease, therefore they have a higher chance of having a compensable claim.
In order to establish a claim, you must tell your employer, preferably in writing, that you are sick. You also must have medical evidence. It is not necessary for your doctor to be 100% certain that you contracted COVID-19 at your workplace. Make an appointment with a doctor who is authorized to treat workers’ compensation patients, or in an emergency, any doctor. In light of the pandemic, appointments may take place via telephone or video. If you have a positive COVID-19 test, give the results to the doctor. The doctor will form an opinion of whether you contracted COVID-19 at your workplace. If they feel that it is probable, they will write a report and send it to your employer’s insurance carrier and the Board.
It may be necessary for you to provide testimony in front of a Workers’ Compensation Law Judge regarding your work environment. In order to have a compensable claim, your testimony, along with the medical opinion that indicates that COVID-19 is prevalent in the community and in your workplace, must prove that it is reasonably probable that your illness is causally related to your workplace.
If your claim is compensable, your medical treatment for COVID-19 will be covered, as well as wage replacement benefits if COVID-19 prevents you from working. If a loved one has passed away due to COVID-19 that was contracted in the workplace, their surviving dependents may be entitled to benefits, as well as reimbursement of funeral expenses, up to $10,500 in Western New York.
If you think you may have contracted COVID-19 at your workplace, call our office at (716) 854-2100 for a free consultation today. The attorneys at Lewis and Lewis are here to help you at every step in your claim.