Workers’ Compensation Protection for First Responders, Medical Personnel and Other Workers
On March 17, 2020, state legislators proposed an emergency bill to cover first responders, medical personnel and other workers for COVID-19, the Coronavirus infection. This law applies to emergency medical technicians, emergency room and urgent care medical personnel, and emergency room and urgent care non-medical staff. EMTs, doctors, nurses, physician assistants, APRNs, LPNs, CNAs, and even administrative employees such as receptionists, secretaries and janitors would come under the umbrella of this law.
Click below to listen to a message from Workers’ Compensation Attorney Juliane Soprano: about receiving benefits if you’ve contracted coronavirus (COVID-19) at work.
Contracting COVID-19 at Work
In effect, the law would assume that any first responder, medical or non-medical provider outlined above contracted COVID-19 at work. This law would ensure first responders and medical personnel would most likely not be fighting with an insurance company to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
BURDEN of PROOF on Insurer’s, Not Infected Workers
If passed, this law would put pressure on workers’ compensation insurance companies to approve rather than deny claims coming in for COVID-19 infected workers. It places the burden on the workers’ compensation insurer to provide sufficient evidence to show the infection was NOT work-related. This is the opposite of how workers’ compensation cases are normally treated. In all other cases, the burden of proof is on the injured worker to come forward with sufficient evidence to show the illness is work-related. To meet this standard, the sick worker must show that not only did he or she contract the illness on the job, but that the risk of contracting such an illness or infection was inherent in the employment.
Benefits available to sick workers under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Law are outlined in M.G.L. Chapter 152. The most common benefits received are (1) weekly compensation for those unable to work at all or only partially able to work and are losing income as a result (2) payment of medical expenses related to the illness. In the unfortunate and hopefully unlikely event of death from the virus, payments to survivors who are dependents are available.