The Coronavirus pandemic has made the workplace more dangerous than ever. People are afraid to go to work. Essential workers feel like their lives are in danger, just for doing their jobs. Despite precautions, the risks remain great while Coronavirus rages in the United States.
Inevitably, some workers will contract COVID-19 because of their employment. These workers may be healthcare workers or first responders. However, grocery store workers and restaurant workers are at risk, too. What happens when an employee contracts Coronavirus at work? Is Coronavirus covered under workers’ comp? Our Colorado workers’ compensation attorneys explain.
Can I Collect Workers’ Compensation if I Contract COVID-19 at Work?
Yes, workers’ compensation may cover Coronavirus. Workers’ compensation covers any kind of work-related illness or injury. As long as you contract the disease at work, it should be covered by workers’ compensation. However, if you have Coronavirus, you need to be able to show to a reasonable degree of certainty that you were exposed at work.
As long as you meet the other qualifying criteria, Coronavirus is an illness that workers’ compensation may cover. You may receive medical care, lost wage reimbursement and permanent loss compensation depending on your circumstances.
Can You Get Workers Compensation for Coronavirus?
It is not clear whether you can get workers’ compensation for Coronavirus. Workers’ compensation indeed covers all work-related illnesses and injuries and is meant to protect workers. Even though workers’ compensation should be a hassle-free compensation system for employees, getting workers’ compensation for Coronavirus may not be so simple.
Missing time from work alone because of Coronavirus is not grounds for compensation. If you contract the virus or any other type of illness, you may need to miss time from work. However, missing work isn’t enough for you to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation applies when you have a work-related illness or injury.
To receive workers’ compensation benefits, the illness has to be something that you contract at work and because of work. Of course, you can’t see a virus. That makes proving you got the virus at work a challenging task.
How Are the Different States Handling Coronavirus Workers’ Compensation Claims?
Each state administers its own workers’ compensation system. Different states have developed varying ways of handling coronavirus workers’ compensation claims. Whether or not you receive approval for your case may depend on the state policy in your location.
For example, in the State of Washington, first responders, including police officers and health care workers, may receive payment. The state provides guidance that they are allowing workers’ compensation claims for COVID-19 illnesses for individuals depending on their type of employment.
The State of Colorado offers less guidance about whether workers’ compensation claims based on Coronavirus will be covered. The State of Colorado Workers Compensation website details some comments and changes in the workers’ compensation system during the Coronavirus crisis. However, they do not offer clear direction about whether they plan to honor Coronavirus-based claims. Changes in the State of Colorado workers’ compensation system include a relaxing of procedural requirements. Original signatures may be waived in some circumstances. Telemedicine may be allowed and reimbursed at a higher rate than previously.
Your Rights if You Contract Coronavirus at Work
Don’t forget to consider all of your rights and options if you contract Coronavirus at work. You may or may not qualify for workers’ compensation. If you are eligible, you should take advantage of the workers’ compensation system. You have legal rights, and you should fight for all of the compensation that you deserve.
However, you should also review your rights as an employee in Colorado and your employer’s workplace policies and procedures. Many workplaces have unique sick time and leave time policies in place because of Coronavirus. Even if workers’ compensation doesn’t apply, your employer may allow you additional time off.
You may be able to get time off that doesn’t come out of your sick balance. The time may be paid. It depends on the sick policies in place at your employer. Remember, many companies have updated these policies in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. Be sure to check for the latest rules in place at your work and take advantage of what might apply to you.
The Colorado Workers Compensation Act and Coronavirus
Contracting Coronavirus at work falls under the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act. Under provision 8-40-102, the purpose of the Workers’ Compensation system is to ensure the fast delivery of medical services to employees who are hurt on the job. The law defines occupational illness as any disease that results directly from employment or a work condition.
The question is whether the disease results from exposure or from working conditions. Another consideration is whether the employee would have been equally exposed to the hazard, were it not for their work (§ 8-40-201). The law does not explicitly mention Coronavirus, but the law doesn’t give any exhaustive list of injuries and diseases.
How Can a Colorado Coronavirus Workers’ Compensation Attorney Help Me?
If you’ve contracted Coronavirus as an essential worker, you may deserve workers’ compensation. Because it isn’t immediately clear whether the workers’ compensation system applies to all individuals with Coronavirus, it’s vital that you present a strong, clear case that follows reporting guidelines. That’s where our expert Colorado workers’ compensation attorneys can help.
With experience helping individuals fight for fair workers’ compensation, we know what it takes to get results. Our team can help you quickly assert your rights and prepare the necessary documentation to pursue your rights to the fullest extent of the law. Where the law is unclear, you need experienced and determined legal professionals fighting for you.
Colorado Coronavirus Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
We invite you to contact our Colorado Coronavirus workers’ compensation attorneys if you think you may have contracted Coronavirus at work. Your case matters, and we can help you fight for the results that you deserve. We pride ourselves on offering legal services based on expert training, unrelenting determination and respect for our clients. Call us today to get started.