Employers Have a Duty to Provide a Safe Workplace:
If an employee merely gets the virus while at work, there is no workers’ comp coverage. But, if an employer tasks the employee with certain jobs that will more likely expose the employee to the virus, then workers’ comp is triggered. An example may be a Maintenance Worker sent to various areas to work. There is an exception if an employer demonstrates gross negligence in assigning jobs. (possible example: “please go fix the boiler in XYZ hospital unit where all of the COVID-19 victims are being treated,”) then the workers’ comp shield against a lawsuit is lost and the employer can be sued for negligence. Another situation that could potentially occur is that employees in particularly high-risk occupations with clear evidence that they were exposed to an infected person on the job get this disease and bring it home to their family. (EX: healthcare worker is exposed during their shift, bring it home to their Ageing grandmother who gets very ill and passes away). The claim for grandmother is a wrongful death claim and is not subject to worker’s compensation as she was not an employee under the Worker’s Compensation Statute.
Employers and their insurance companies will probably fight hard against workers’ comp claims for COVID-19—at least for anyone other than employees in particularly high-risk occupations with clear evidence that they were exposed to an infected person on the job. If you file a claim and are denied at first, you should speak with a qualified workers’ comp attorney who can evaluate your claim, explain how the current rules apply to your situation, and help you with an appeal if that's appropriate.
The Fostel Law Firm, PLLC is a nationwide practice and is willing to review cases from any state for no charge. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Contact my office today to begin the process of holding the responsible party accountable.