April 1, 2020 by Michael C. Duff

The Coronavirus and Shortcomings of Workers' Comp

Front-line health care workers and other first responders are in the trenches of the battle against the COVID-19 virus. The news is replete with tragic stories of these workers fearing death, making wills, and frantically utilizing extreme social distancing techniques to keep their own families sheltered from exposure to the virus. Should they contract the virus and become unable to work, they may seek workers' compensation coverage, which is the primary benefit system for workers suffering work-related injuries or diseases.

Under workers' compensation, workers are entitled – after a waiting period of seven days or so, depending on the state – to a portion of the wages earned at the time of suffering the work-related injury or illness and payment of reasonably necessary related medical expenses.

Yet, as Bill Smith, president of the Workers' Advocates Law and Injury Group (the largest group of employee-side lawyers in the country) noted in a recent open letter, "Several states deny compensation for 'ordinary diseases of life.' Other states require clear and convincing evidence that the virus was acquired at work as opposed to exposure on the street, in a restaurant, or from a friend or family member. This burden of proof imposes a virtually …

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April 1, 2020

The Coronavirus and Shortcomings of Workers' Comp