Workers’ Compensation Insurers Covertly Avoiding Covid Claims
It appears there is a concerted effort on the part of workers’ compensation insurers and employers to avoid classifying COVID claims as work-related. Employers are being encouraged to pay sickened workers for a limited time hoping they will recover and return to work. If an Employee is paid for the time he/she is out of work, it is less likely that any further questions will be asked.
As an example, in a recent case, a nurse working on a COVID ward contracted the disease and received the following response from the workers’ compensation insurer: these issues are being handled “internally by your employer” and COVID claims are “not being covered under workers’ comp at this time”. This response implies that becoming sick from the virus cannot be the basis of a workers’ compensation claim. Such a statement is misleading, as this is not the law. According to a recent article by Kaiser Health News, this appears to be a problem beyond Massachusetts.
In fact, any employee in the healthcare industry who contracts COVID should assume the infection is work-related. This may well be the case in other occupations as well. In order to be considered work-related, the risk of being exposed must be “inherent” in the employment. COVID, unlike other viruses, is a novel situation due to the quarantine regulations and only certain businesses being allowed to stay open to the public. It can therefore be argued the risk is inherent for anyone who has been working with the public.
All claims should be submitted to the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier and if denied pursued through the court process at the Department of Industrial Accidents. As there is presently no data available to determine the long term effects of the virus, even workers who have had a brief period of illness should establish the infection as work-related.
Insurers Avoid Covid Claims. Click below to Listen.