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Coronavirus, Healthcare Workers and Workers’ Compensation

Coronavirus, Healthcare Workers and Workers’ Compensation

I have already read 2 articles in Insurance Journals discussing the ramifications of employees coming down with coronavirus. Insurance companies are not really sure how to deal with this, although the initial impression seemed to be to deny the claims as showing it is “work related” could be very difficult to prove given how easily transmitted the virus is in the general public.

For the general public, it could be difficult to prove you caught the disease at work, although this is not true of all jobs. I am thinking specifically of Heath Care Workers. Doctors, nurses, Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), all healthcare workers are in the front line in the Nation’s battle against this deadly new infection, and as such they are at a much higher risk of becoming ill-especially given the limited amount of protective equipment available to them-although any worker may be able to pursue a claim related to being infected with the coronavirus if they can meet the qualifications.

The coronavirus would be considered an occupational disease.

Alabama’s Workers’ Compensation Act defines an occupational disease as follows: A disease arising out of and in the course of employment including occupational pneumoconiosis and occupational exposure to radiation as defined…in this section, which is due to hazards in excess of those ordinarily incident to employment in general and is peculiar to the occupation in which the employee is engaged but without regard to negligence, or fault, if any, of the employer. A disease, including, but not limited to, loss of hearing due to noise, shall be deemed an occupational disease only if caused by a hazard recognized as peculiar to a particular trade, process, occupation, or employment as a direct result of exposure, over a period of time, to normal working condition of the trade, process, occupation, or employment.

To most people who do not handle work injury cases in Alabama for a living, this definition is a clear as mud, so in laymen’s terms, to be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits related to the coronavirus or any other occupational disease in Alabama, you must be able to show that the disease (i) is not merely temporary in nature, (ii) was caused (or a preexisting condition was worsened) by you job duties if your job duties exposed you to hazards which are (a) in excess of those ordinarily incident to employment in general and (b) are different in character from those found in general occupations.

The key with a disease such as coronavirus is proving that your job duties placed you in greater peril of sustaining the disease by the nature of your job. One can see how a healthcare worker’s job is such that they should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits should they contract the disease.

Right now, for those of us who are not healthcare workers-the absolute best thing you can do for yourself, your family and our Nation is to stay at home. For our healthcare workers, this is not an option. Our respect for your profession is boundless and we wish health and safety for your all, but should you become sick-know that you do not have to handle the situation alone.

If you hare a healthcare worker and you have questions about your right to Alabama Workers’ Compensation benefits, please don’t hesitate to contact and speak with one of the experienced Alabama Job Injury Attorneys at Powell and Denny today for a FREE consultation.  Virtual appointments are available through Zoom for your protection from the coronavirus pandemic.

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Coronavirus, Healthcare Workers and Workers’ Compensation

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