Can I Get Workers’ Compensation For COVID-19 In Florida?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been going on since early 2020, and while preventative measures have helped in lowering the number of cases, Florida continues to see high numbers. However, the protections for workers that were available in recent years are mostly gone as of this writing, and employees still worry about contracting the virus on the job. It is a good idea to know your options if you are so unfortunate as to get sick at work.
COVID-19 As Occupational Disease
While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other worldwide health organizations have made significant strides in understanding the COVID-19 virus and its variants, there is still much that is unknown about its spread. Because of this, Florida’s Division of Workers’ Compensation urges that COVID-19 be evaluated through three lenses: accident, injury, and occupational disease. This is important for workers’ compensation purposes because COVID-19 cannot usually be classified as an accident or injury; it can only be classified as an occupational disease under Florida law.
Florida law defines an occupational disease as one that is caught because of “causes and conditions” that are specialized to a particular “trade, occupation, process, or employment.” However, COVID-19 is somewhat of an anomaly. Normally, an occupational disease is, by definition, not an “ordinary disease of life” that the general public might catch at a similar clip to workers in a given industry, but since so much about the condition is unknown, the chance of a worker’s claim being granted has been marginally higher.
Your Claim Must Be Compensable
It is possible to mount a successful claim if you catch COVID-19 at work, but your claim must qualify as compensable under Florida law. You must have begun to show symptoms of COVID-19 before a certain date, or be in a certain profession, in order to qualify for benefits. For example, in 2020, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer directed the state’s workers’ compensation program to begin extending benefits to those in “high risk” industries – for example, first responders (including emergency medical technicians), National Guard members, and corrections staff. However, this obviously leaves many public and private employees out in the cold.
If you have contracted COVID-19, and you have a reasonable suspicion that you caught it from a coworker or supervisor, you may be able to establish that your condition is a result of an occupational injury. However, as time goes on, fewer and fewer claims are being accepted, and even fewer numbers of those are being granted. Consulting a knowledgeable attorney can be a good idea, so that you can tailor your claim in the best way possible to give you the best chance of recovery.
Contact An Orlando Workers’ Compensation Attorney
While Florida continues to tally cases of COVID-19, you have the right to seek compensation if you catch the virus at work, particularly if your employer takes insufficient precautions to help you and your coworkers stay safe. The Orlando workers’ compensation attorneys at the Hornsby Law Group are ready and willing to try and assist you with your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.