Workers’ Comp for Workers Who Cannot Follow Social Distancing Protocols
April 29, 2020
Can’t Stay 6 Feet Apart at Work?
If you contract COVID-19 at work, you may be eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
Many workers are not able to perform their jobs and follow social distancing protocols. If this is you and you are out of work because you contracted the coronavirus, call us at 215-546-0011. We offer free, no-obligation consultations over the phone or virtually.
Are You an Essential Worker in Harm’s Way Because of Your Job?
Think about the people who are required to work when everyone else is staying home. It is very difficult for postal employees, cashiers at liquor stores and food markets, and gas station attendants to perform their work duties six feet apart from their customers or co-workers.
Granted, the post office and many other establishments are erecting barriers between cashiers and their customers, and most of the public is complying with the request to wear face masks. But according to the World Health Organization, this highly-contagious disease is transmitted from person to person by airborne droplets from an uncovered cough or sneeze or even merely exhaling, and those droplets can remain on surfaces from several hours up to several days. Wearing a mask, frequently washing your hands, and refraining from touching your face all lessen the likelihood you will be infected but, do not eliminate the risk.
Many people who carry the coronavirus are asymptomatic and do not know they have the disease. Any essential worker dealing with the public should assume that everyone they encounter on the job has the coronavirus and should take the necessary precautions. An essential worker should also consider that he or she has it and take precautions to avoid infecting anyone else.
What if I Catch the Coronavirus at Work?
You may be entitled to workers’ comp benefits if you are out of work because your symptoms are more serious and you have been quarantined or must stay home to take time to recover.
In Pennsylvania, workers’ comp is governed by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (“the Act”). The Act provides that a worker must report a workplace injury within 21 days of the accident, or in the case of the coronavirus, within 21 days of the day you find out you have COVID-19. The employer and its insurance company have 21 days after receiving notice of your injury to determine whether to pay or deny the claim.
We have 40 years’ experience getting clients the workers’ comp benefits they deserve, and we believe the insurance companies are going to routinely deny workers’ comp claims if the worker is not in the healthcare industry.
Why? First, insurance companies only make money when they deny claims. Second, they will argue that exposure to the contagion is not part of your regular work duties, and therefore contracting COVID-19 is not a work-related injury.
Catching the Coronavirus May Be a Work-Related Injury For Essential Workers
- File your initial claim for workers’ comp benefits
- Document your medical case to show whether when you can return to work
- Communicate and negotiate with insurance company lawyers
- Review the settlements for which you might be eligible and help you determine which are in your best interest
- Appeal a denial of benefits
- Represent you in administrative hearings
- Help with modification of benefits if and when necessary
I Had ARDS and am Chronically Short of Breath and Cannot Return to Work. What Do I Do?
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) also called “wet lung,” is one of the more severe symptoms of COVID-19. ARDS is the sudden build-up of fluids in the lungs, preventing the lungs from taking in enough air to pass oxygen to the body’s organs. ARDS is often fatal.
While we are still in the early stages of discovering signs, symptoms and what previous healthcare issues hinder this disease, we do know that many people who suffer from ARDS and recover continue to be short of breath. Some may need oxygen to breathe, others may be unable to breathe on their own and must be on a ventilator.
If you cannot work because of the lasting ill effects of COVID-19-related ARDS, you may be entitled to permanent partial or total disability payments through worker’s comp. In the alternative, you may also be entitled to Social Security Disability payments.
Call us and we will help you determine what course of action to take. As an essential worker, you are taking care of us during this trying time. Now let us take care of you.