Can You Use Workers’ Comp if You Contract COVID-19 at Work?

by NPHM | October 26th, 2020

COVID-19 has been on everyone’s minds since early March 2020 when it began spreading through the U.S. Ohio alone has experienced tens of thousands of cases and thousands of deaths related to the virus. In addition to posing a serious health threat, the virus has also impacted the global, national, and local economy, and many companies and jobs are at risk.

Some workers have been able to do their jobs from home, reducing their risk of infection. But many jobs still require workers to be on-site—including those that are customer- and client-facing. In addition, healthcare workers are also required to work directly with patients, some of whom may be infected with the virus. That puts those healthcare workers, their loved ones, and everyone else they come into contact with at risk of infection.

COVID-19 Can Make It Impossible to Earn a Living

When people get COVID-19, they may not only be too sick to work, but their employers may even require that they stay at home to avoid infecting others. That can put their jobs and livelihoods at risk.

And when that happens, they may not receive the paychecks they need to keep up with their daily living expenses, let alone their medical bills. People often reach out for governmental assistance during times like this, but is that possible for a COVID-19 infection?

Here’s What the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Says

As of Sept. 16, 2020, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (OBWC) says that eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits after COVID-19 infection depends on how applicants contracted the virus and the nature of their occupations. That’s because communicable diseases are typically not covered under workers’ compensation, as it can be difficult to determine how and where employees became infected.

However, the OBWC also says that people in certain occupations who are at an elevated risk of getting COVID-19 may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if they are exposed to the virus and become infected at work. Because this is such a unique scenario for the OBWC and for workers in Ohio, it’s important to have an experienced lawyer on your side who can advocate for your rights and prove your situation is eligible so you can get the money you’re owed.

Who is Most at Risk of Contracting COVID-19?

Because COVID-19 is a communicable disease that’s most easily spread through droplets that are released by talking, sneezing, and coughing, people who are frequently in close contact with others are most at risk of contracting the virus. That includes people in industries such as:

  • Hospitality
  • Nursing
  • Healthcare
  • Retail
  • Dental care
  • Stylists
  • Emergency response
  • Education
  • Public and private transportation
  • And more

People in these occupations often receive extra safeguards to protect them from COVID-19. However, because they frequently interact with the public, their elevated risk remains even with many precautions in place.

What Are the Risks of COVID-19 for Consumer-Facing Workers?

The severity of COVID-19 infections can vary. Some people who get the virus are asymptomatic, while others may suffer only minor symptoms. However, some people can become severely ill and require hospitalization, and more than 200,000 people have died from it in the U.S. alone this year.

In addition, there’s evidence that people who contract COVID-19 may experience prolonged symptoms, recurrences of their illness, and even long-term organ damage. People who suffer permanent complications from COVID-19 may be unable to work for months, years, or even for the rest of their lives. When that happens, there’s no doubt that they’re the victims of permanent disability that was caused by their jobs, and we believe they should be compensated fairly for what they’ve gone through.

Did You Contract COVID-19 at Work? If So, We Want to Help.

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, our Ohio workers’ compensation lawyers know all too well that the OBWC regularly denies what should be valid applications and claims. In its efforts to reduce workers’ compensation fraud, the agency is often too strict when reviewing applications, and that leaves countless injured and sick workers unable to get the money they need to keep up with their expenses and medical bills.

Although the OBWC says that COVID-19 infections can be grounds for obtaining workers’ compensation benefits, experience teaches us that getting those benefits will be an uphill battle for workers who were seriously harmed by the virus. If you or someone you love was infected with COVID-19 at work and you need benefits, don’t go it alone, and don’t risk a denial. Get it done right the first time by calling our lawyers today.