Is A COVID-19 Infection Compensable Through Workers’ Compensation?
While COVID-19 infection rates are declining and more people are being vaccinated, workers in Florida continue to contract COVID-19, and some of them contract the virus on the job. If you are in this situation, and if you ultimately have a severe infection that requires hospitalization or if you suffer from “long covid” and are unable to work, can you seek compensation through the Florida workers’ compensation system? The answer will depend upon the specific facts of your case. Our South Florida workers’ compensation attorneys can explain more about workers’ compensation benefits after a COVID-19 infection.
Understanding Compensation for a Workplace Illness
Under Florida law, a worker can seek compensation through the Florida workers’ compensation system for an illness, which is known as an “occupational disease” under Florida law. Yet the disease must truly be occupational in nature, meaning that it must have arisen out of the worker’s job. A disease that an employee contracts while employed, or even while on the job, is not necessarily a compensable occupational disease for purposes of seeking workers’ compensation benefits. In order for an occupational disease to be compensable, all of the following must be true:
- Disease resulted from the nature of the employment in which the employee was engaged;
- Disease was actually contracted while so engaged; and
- Nature of the employment was the major contributing cause of the disease.
The statute explains that the “major contributing cause” requirement must be shown by medical evidence, including a physical examination by a doctor and diagnostic testing. The statute also clarifies that the term “nature of the employment” means that the worker’s specific job had a particular hazard connected to the disease or that the incidence of the disease was substantially higher in the worker’s job. Moreover, the statute requires “both causation and sufficient exposure to a specific harmful substance be shown to be present in the workplace to support causation,” and explains that this requirement must be proven by the heightened standard of “clear and convincing evidence.”
How COVID-19 May Be an Occupational Disease Claim
How do the requirements for a compensable occupational disease affect COVID-19 claims? Anyone who contracted COVID-19 at their place of employment where there are average numbers of people infected with the virus will be unlikely to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.
However, healthcare providers in particular may be able to seek workers’ compensation benefits if they contract COVID-19 at work while treating COVID-19 patients or seeing patients in an area where there are a significant number of COVID-19 patients. While the “clear and convincing evidence” standard may still be difficult to meet, an experienced Sunrise workers’ compensation lawyer can help.
Seek Advice from a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Sunrise
If you contracted COVID-19 at your place of employment and are now unable to work, or if you have been diagnosed with another type of occupational disease, one of our experienced Sunrise workers’ compensation attorneys can speak with you today about your options for seeking financial compensation. Contact the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld, P.A. for more information.