The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has ravaged our country causing millions to suffer and thousands dying as a result of this disease. First responders and other essential workers are faced with an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 at work, which leads to the logical question of whether an employee can collect workers’ compensation benefits after contracting the disease. At the Johnson Law Office, our team is working hard to get our clients the workers’ compensation they deserve after contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. To learn more, call or contact our office now.
In April, the Missouri legislature passed an emergency rule for first responders during the COVID-19 crisis. It provides a presumption that any first responder that contracts COVID-19 did so in the course of their employment, rendering them eligible for workers’ compensation benefits under the theory of occupational disease. The new rule applies to any first responder who contracts COVID-19 or who is required to quarantine because of possible exposure and is retroactive to the beginning of the pandemic outbreak. Those considered first responders include law enforcement officers, firefighters, and EMTs. The rule does not apply to doctors, nurses, or other healthcare workers. The emergency rule is in effect until February 1, 2021.
For other essential workers in Missouri who do not have the benefit of working from home to protect themselves from COVID-19, this emergency rule unfortunately does not apply. Claims for workers’ compensation benefits due to COVID-19 exposure are more difficult because it can be hard to determine where a person contracted the disease and whether it was in the course of their employment.
In order to collect workers’ compensation benefits, an essential worker must show that COVID-19 qualifies as an occupational disease for their employment. In Missouri, an occupational disease is one that is an identifiable disease arising with or without fault out of and in the course of employment. Furthermore, ordinary diseases that the general public is exposed to like the flu are not compensable, and the occupational exposure must be shown to be the prevailing factor in contracting the disease. As such, in order to collect workers’ compensation benefits for COVID-19, an essential worker must be able to prove that their employment subjected them to an increased hazard of contracting the disease compared to someone not in their line of work.
For workers who file a successful workers’ compensation claim for COVID-19 exposure, the benefits will be the same as other claims under Missouri law. Those affected by COVID-19 are entitled to reimbursement of lost wages, payment for all relevant medical treatment, permanent partial disability, and potentially permanent total disability benefits apply, as well. These benefits can be considerable depending on the seriousness of the case, whether hospitalization and ventilation is necessary, and the long-term effects of the disease.
Have you or a loved one contracted COVID-19 while on the job? Whether you are a first responder or other essential worker, you may have a claim for workers’ compensation benefits in Missouri. To learn more about your legal options, call the office or contact us at the Johnson Law Firm to schedule a consultation of your claims with an experienced Missouri workers’ compensation attorney now.
The Johnson Law Firm, LLC, can answer your questions about what our legal practices. Contact us for a free consultation. We are located in St. Charles and serve the surrounding areas of Missouri.