What Should I Do If I Contract COVID-19 at Work?
May 21, 2020
As more businesses reopen, many employees are wondering if they might get sick by going back to work. The federal government has established guidelines to help keep workers safe, however, risks remain. If you contract COVID-19 at work, you may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation to cover your medical bills and lost wages. However, your employer may try to deny your claim by asserting that you did not catch the virus at work. It is important to seek the counsel of an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer who can help build your case and calculate the maximum amount of benefits for which you may be eligible.
Guidelines for Ensuring Worker Health and Safety
To support businesses seeking to reopen, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among workers, which involve the following activities:
- Conducting daily health checks
- Performing a hazard assessment of the workplace
- Encouraging employees to wear cloth coverings
- Implementing policies and practices for social distancing
- Improving building ventilation systems
In addition, employers are encouraged to increase the frequency of cleaning commonly touched surfaces, and stagger breaks to prevent employees from congregating in the break room. Employees should not share headsets or other objects that are near the mouth or nose. If an employee gets sick, they are to be sent home immediately. Despite these precautions, it is inevitable that some workers will contract COVID-19.
When are COVID-19 Victims Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act provides benefits to workers harmed as a result of their job. COVID-19 may be considered an occupational illness, much like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, silicosis, or occupational asthma. However, to be eligible for benefits, an employee with COVID-19 must prove that the disease was contracted at work. This is easier to do if the worker was involved in an occupation that required direct contact with people who have the disease. Some jobs for which it may be easier to prove a direct link include:
- Emergency room doctors, nurses, and other frontline health care workers
- First responders
- Medical transport workers
- Nursing home staff
- Coroners doing autopsies
- Home health aides
However, as more businesses reopen, other types of workers may be exposed, including workplace settings where social distancing is impossible. Also, if employers have not followed CDC guidelines to ensure safety, a worker may have a higher chance of contracting the disease at work.
If you contracted COVID-19 and you believe it happened at work, it is absolutely essential to seek legal advice from an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer. Your employer may deny your request and say that you contracted the virus outside of work. A skilled attorney can help you document the conditions under which you contracted the illness to prove that you were infected on the job.
Seeking Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Studies indicate that COVID-19 may linger in a person’s body and cause long-term medical conditions, including asthma and permanent damage to the liver and kidneys. Many individuals who recovered from COVID-19 report fatigue, muscle pain, shortness of breath, and other conditions that prevent them from going back to work. Just taking two-weeks of paid leave may not be enough to recover from COVID-19. Workers’ Compensation can pay for the costs of medical treatment for lingering conditions.
Vineland Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Advocate for Employees Who Contracted COVID-19 at Work
If you contracted COVID-19 at work, the Vineland Workers’ Compensation lawyers at DiTomaso Law will work diligently to collect evidence and build a strong case for your claim. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we are dedicated to representing workers throughout South Jersey, including Mt. Holly and Camden County. For a fee consultation, contact us online or call us at 856-414-0010.
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