Can you claim workers compensation for COVID-19? Possibly
COVID-19 was declared a pandemic (worldwide) outbreak in early March 2020, and since then, the state of Ohio has taken bold steps to suspend school, limit restaurants to take-out or delivery orders, and institute stay-at-home measures in an effort to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Employees in essential industries remain on the front lines — healthcare providers to treat the sick, grocery store employees stocking food and supplies for shoppers, and truck drivers transporting goods throughout the country. Recently, the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation published a new resource for workers as to how the spread of the virus could impact how the agency processes and approves claims.
Many Ohioans are concerned about businesses that should be closed but aren’t, or businesses that are allowed to be open but aren’t following protocols, such as distancing and temperature checks.
This leads to an important question: Can you file for workers compensation if you believe you contracted coronavirus through workplace contact?
According to the BWC:
It depends on how you contract it and the nature of your occupation. Generally, communicable diseases like COVID-19 are not workers’ compensation claims because people are exposed in a variety of ways, and few jobs have a hazard or risk of getting the diseases in a greater degree or a different manner than the general public. However, if you work in a job that poses a special hazard or risk and contract COVID-19 from the work exposure, BWC could allow your claim.
According to our own workers compensation attorney, Carly Ibold:
“If you believe you contracted COVID-19 from work exposure, you should contact an experienced workers compensation attorney to investigate your matter. If a link can be made between your diagnosis and your employment, you may have a valid workers compensation claim that will pay for your medical bills, a portion of your lost wages, and perhaps other benefits that you may qualify for.”
Keep in mind that this is a scenario that is unfolding by the day. For additional information, you can read the frequently asked questions about COVID-19 on the Ohio BWC website.