As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt life as we know it, many people have found themselves in situations where they must return to work, taking as many safety precautions as possible but still running the risk of catching coronavirus while at work. Some employees have died after complications from the virus. Does Workers’ Compensation cover those who die from complications of COVID-19 after contracting the virus at work?
Florida Workers’ Compensation and COVID-19 Wrongful Death
As most businesses reopen and employees return to work, there is a question about what happens next if an employee is infected with the coronavirus while on the job. This is when it is crucial to hire an experienced Florida Workers’ Compensation attorney to help guide you through the system.
In general, Workers’ Comp benefits cover:
- Medical care related to the injury or illness
- Retraining and rehabilitation
- Lost wages
- Compensation if an injury is permanent
- Benefits to survivors if an employee is killed on the job
While Workers’ Comp insurance is meant to protect you as an employee, your claim can be rejected if your employer disputes that you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, if you did not notify your employer or file a claim within the specified time periods, or if your injury or illness isn’t deemed severe enough to warrant workers’ compensation.
So what does this mean in relation to employees who are infected with coronavirus at work and die from complications due to the virus? Is COVID-19 a workplace injury?
Workers’ compensation is a benefit that should be available to all employees who have suffered a significant injury or illness that arose out of, and in the course of, their employment. In the case of this global pandemic, employers have been accused of failing to implement proper sanitation and social distancing protocols; failing to issue protective gear to employees; failing to inform employees about positive cases at work and more.
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation issued an informational memorandum back in April, directing all insurers and entities authorized to write workers’ compensation insurance to adhere to Florida law, which requires an employer to provide workers’ compensation coverage if the employee suffers a compensable injury arising out of work performed in the course and scope of employment. While there are a number of variables that must be considered, this means that first responders, health care workers, and others that contract COVID-19 due to work-related exposure would be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits under Florida law.
Filing for Wrongful Death Benefits
If your loved one contracted coronavirus on the job, and has since passed away due to complications from the virus, you should receive Workers’ Compensation benefits.
LaBovick Law Group’s Florida Workers’ Compensation attorneys advise that employees make sure to first report the incident/illness to the employer. Employees have 30 days under the Florida Workers’ Compensation law to report the incident. This is important, as it’s essential to report the sickness within 30 days. It should be noted, there is a gray area as to when it must be reported — it may be from the date the person received a positive COVID test or it could be the date they first felt the symptoms and realized it was from work.
Sick employees typically need to treat with the doctors provided by Workers’ Comp to ensure the Florida Workers’ Compensation claim remains open. During these times, some people find it difficult to find a doctor who will treat them. This is unacceptable, and your LaBovick Law Group attorneys are here to serve as your zealous advocate/warrior for justice and intermediary. We’ll make sure appointments are scheduled and you seek treatment with the correct doctors.
In the very unfortunate case where an employee has died due to complications of the COVID-19 virus they contracted at work, there are many things to consider when moving forward with a wrongful death claim. Many employers are forcing employees to sign a liability waiver to come back to work. It may be difficult to prove the employee contracted the virus on the job. However, you DO have a claim if your loved one has passed away due to complications from the coronavirus they were infected with at work.
Regardless of what industry you’re in, the experienced Florida Workers’ Compensation attorneys at LaBovick Law Group are here to support you during COVID-19. We are devoted to helping victims navigate this complicated area of the law. We demand fair resolutions to our clients’ Workers’ Compensation claims.