If you are planning to file for worker’s compensation protection after contracting Covid-19 at work, you probably need to plan on getting an attorney right away. Even workers at hospitals and nursing homes are struggling to get compensation after contracting the virus.
For example, in one New Jersey case the widow of a housekeeper at a nursing home is trying to get workers compensation death benefits. Her husband’s employer gave him no PPE. They refuse to cover her husband’s ICU bill or survivor’s pay.
The state senate recently has passed a bill that provides expanded protection to essential employees, creating a presumption that Covid-19 contracted by essential employees is a work-related injury for the purpose of receiving benefits. The bill has not yet been enacted into law. The bill is currently before the Assembly Labor Committee.
The bill would require employers of essential employees who wanted to fight employees on whether Covid is work related to prove, by a “preponderance of evidence,” that they did not contract the disease at work.
The bill includes other protections. For example, if the bill passes, “the amount of time an essential employee is incapacitated or unable to perform their duties as a result of contracting coronavirus disease 2019, or Covid-19, or exposure to the disease or infection and the required time of hospitalization, time of quarantine, or time of self-quarantine shall be considered as on-duty time, and an essential employee shall not be required to use paid leave or any other contractual time-off to cover the period of incapacitation or inability to perform regular duty work. This time of incapacitation or inability to perform their duties shall be considered as ’emergency hazard health duty.'”
Until and unless this bill is made law, however, you should expect employers to fight long and hard to avoid having their workers compensation policies pay one dime for Covid-19 compensation. The bill also has its fair share of opponents. For example, the New Jersey Business & Industry Association opposes the bill on the grounds that “the costs of these claims can overwhelm the system, which was not designed to handle claims during a worldwide pandemic.”
In other words, don’t expect your employer to care about you and your family. The only thing they care about is keeping as much money in their pockets as possible.
You don’t have to fight for justice alone. If you’re trying to get workers compensation benefits for Covid or any other work related injury or illness, call us. We’ll fight for you.