Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation If I Contract COVID-19 At Work?
The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, as of this writing, and its toll on working Floridians has been extremely steep. Many have lost their jobs, and for those who remain at work, the high stress and possibility of contracting a potentially deadly virus can make life difficult. If you test positive for COVID-19 and you believe that you have been exposed to the virus at work, the natural instinct for many is to try and apply for workers’ compensation benefits based on this very real injury. However, your ability to receive those benefits are up in the air.
Managing On-The-Job Injuries & Occupational DIseases
Florida’s workers’ compensation law is designed to provide medical care for workers who contract a disease or sustain an injury in the course of their employment. When an employee is injured on the job, they must give their employer notice within 30 days, and in exchange for medical treatment for their injuries, the employee gives up any right to sue or seek other benefits. Under workers’ compensation you do not have to pay any of your bills.
In most cases, you are able to receive lost wage benefits in addition to medical bills being covered. That said, these benefits are tied to your injury in that they will disappear upon your injury reaching what the law calls maximum medical improvement (MMI). Once your injury or disease has reached a point where medical science cannot conceivably do more to ameliorate the issue, you will be said to have reached MMI, after which your benefits will end.
“In The Scope Of Employment”
In theory, there is no real opposition to covering those who contract COVID-19 while in the course of their employment. However, it is difficult, if not impossible, to establish that a virus like COVID-19 was contracted on the job, given its nature. An occupational disease can be established most often by linking it to work that one is doing – for example, someone working at a nuclear power facility would generally be able to receive workers’ compensation if they were to suffer radiation poisoning. COVID-19 can be contracted from anyone who has been exposed.
Be advised that as of this writing, however, Florida law only explicitly extends workers’ compensation coverage to certain essential workers who might contract COVID-19, referred to as “frontline state employees.” Examples include state and municipal first responders, corrections officers, and state employees working in healthcare fields. This leaves a lot of employees without guaranteed coverage, but consulting with an attorney may still give you a chance to receive the compensation you feel you deserve.
Contact An Orlando Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you fear that you have developed COVID-19 after being exposed on the job, it can feel too overwhelming to contemplate seeking benefits. If you do choose to explore your options, you need an Orlando workers’ compensation attorney who can offer knowledgeable and compassionate representation at a frightening time. The Hornsby Law Group has been handling workers’ compensation cases for years, and will work hard to try and help you with yours. Call our offices today to speak to an attorney.