Pennsylvania COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Claim Lawyer
Are COVID-19 Claims Compensable Under Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Comp Law?
Two filing options:
- If you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19 in your workplace, you may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation (WC) by either:
- Notifying your employer to file a typical “disease-as-injury” WC claim, which requires you to provide medical evidence that you were exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace
- Notifying your employer to file an “occupational disease” WC claim, which requires you to show that COVID-19 is occurring more in your occupation/industry than in the general population
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise across the country, more and more people have begun expressing concerns over their employment rights. Unfortunately, whether COVID-19 claims are compensable under state law is still uncertain, so if you believe that you have been exposed to COVID-19 in your workplace, it is important to speak with an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer who can help determine whether you are eligible for compensation.
Does Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act Cover COVID-19?
Although Pennsylvania’s governor recently waived the one week waiting period and work search requirements for those attempting to file unemployment claims, similar measures have not yet been taken to ease the burden of filing a workers’ comp claim during these uncertain times. There also haven’t been any specific rulings on the issue of whether COVID-19 is compensable under Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation laws, so at least for the time being, these determinations will be left up to individual insurance carriers, risk managers, and third party administrators, who will need to rely on:
- Similar cases; and
- Relevant fact patterns.
Unfortunately, the initial reaction of most insurers will probably be negative, as companies will be wary of taking a hit on their earnings and setting a precedent for later claims. There is, however, a good argument that COVID-19 is compensable under state law, which specifically allows employees to collect workers’ compensation for diseases that are occupational in nature. Although COVID-19 is not yet listed as an enumerated disease, it could still qualify for the law’s rebuttable presumption, which states that employees are not required to provide specific proof of workplace exposure if there is evidence that the likelihood of contracting the disease is substantially higher in a certain industry than in the general population. These professions would include essential employees, including but not limited to, hospital and medical staff, first responders, corrections officers, United States Parcel service employees, FedEx employees, factory and warehouse employees and grocery and gas station employees.
COVID-19 Workers’ Comp Filing Options
Employees who have been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace have two different options, as noted above, when it comes to filing a claim. The first is to notify their employer of the intent to file a typical “disease-as-injury” workers’ compensation claim, which requires claimants to provide medical evidence that they were exposed to a specific illness in the workplace or while in the course and scope of employment. If the employee fails to preserve the evidence properly, this could be a difficult burden to meet. Case law states clearly that if an employee can prove that the source of an illness was workplace exposure that occurred while in the course and scope of employment that his or her claim will be compensable. Alternatively, an employer could instead file an “occupational disease” claim, which requires a showing that a certain disease is occurring more often in a certain occupation or industry than in the general population. The success in filing either of these types of claims after contracting COVID-19 will be depend on the initial preservation of evidence by the employee following an exposure or becoming ill.
If you believe that you had an exposure or have become ill and that it occurred at work or while in the course and scope of your employment, particularly any essential employees, it is important that an incident report is immediately filed with the Employer documenting with whom you had the exposure and where you had the exposure. If you are not aware of an exposure but begin to experience any of the listed symptoms associated with COVID-19 you need to file an incident report with your Employer and then contacting an attorney so that you can be advised how to best protect yourself and your family.
Call Today for Help with Your Case
The nature of COVID-19 makes it extremely difficult to prove how the illness was contracted, especially for those without legal representation, so if you believe that you were exposed to COVID-19 at work, please call Figured Law Firm at 570-954-9299 today to speak with dedicated workers’ compensation lawyer, Keith Figured, about notifying your employer, pursuing your claim, and preserving your evidence.