The past year has been a stressful and frightening time for everyone. If your work requires you to be in public spaces for several hours each day, the threat of the coronavirus is likely amplified even further for you and your family.
If you catch COVID-19, you may wonder if there are any protections for you or ways to recoup your losses.
Here’s what you need to know about workers’ compensation and COVID-19:
Michigan Workers’ Compensation Protects Employees
If you become infected with COVID-19 as a result of your work, you have the right to file a claim for workers’ compensation. However, it will be up to you to prove that you contracted the virus from your workplace.
Your Type of Employment Matters
- If you are a first responder and you were diagnosed with the coronavirus between March 20, 2020, and March 20, 2021, your ailment is considered a personal injury because of your employment.
- If you are a non-first response employee or a first responder who was exposed to the virus during a time outside of the aforementioned period, you are required to prove your claim through the normal statutory process.
According to The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity of Michigan, “Employers always have the opportunity to obtain contrary evidence to present if they choose, and to dispute a claim.”
First Response Employees
According to the 3-30-2020 Workers’ Disability Compensation Agency Emergency Rules, a first responder is defined as one or more of the following:
- Someone who works in ambulance operations and advanced mobile emergency care services, county medical care facilities, emergency services, emergency medical services, homes for the aged, hospices, hospitals, and nursing homes.
- Someone who works in a home health agency or visiting nurse association.
- Someone who works as a physician, physician assistant, nurse, emergency medical technician, paramedic, or respiratory therapist.
- Someone who works as a police officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, on-call member of a fire department, volunteer civil defense worker, on-call member of a life support agency, or member of an emergency rescue team.
- A member of the Michigan State Police or an officer of the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division of the Department of the State Police.
- A Michigan Department of Corrections Officer or local corrections officer.
However, it’s important to consider this rule expired on March 20, 2021.
Non-First Response Employees
If you are not considered a first response employee, you may still file a claim for an injury or occupational disease if you become infected with COVID-19. Although, you must be able to specifically describe when and where you were exposed to the virus and provide the diagnosis provided by a physician or COVID-19 test. If you can provide this evidence, it may be possible to prove how you have suffered a personal injury and are consequently entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Keep in mind, Michigan operates under a wage loss system. That means it is critical you demonstrate you were exposed to the virus through the scope of your work, and the illness has caused you to lose some or all of your wage-earning capacity in work fitting for your qualifications and training.
Eligible COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Claims
Even if you can’t determine a particular source of exposure to the virus, but you work around people who have been diagnosed, you may have a viable claim. The key here is that you must have contracted the condition as a result of the direct scope of your work.
According to the Michigan legislature (§ 418.401), “‘Personal injury’ includes a disease or disability that is due to causes and conditions that are characteristic of and peculiar to the business of the employer and that arises out of and in the course of the employment. An ordinary disease of life to which the public is generally exposed outside of the employment is not compensable.”
Workers’ Compensation Benefits Available to Personnel with COVID-19
There are strict limitations imposed regarding the benefits you may receive due to an on-the-job injury or illness. You may be able to receive the following benefits, depending on your situation:
- Wage loss benefits
- Medical benefits
- Rehabilitation benefits
- Burial allowance if the worker passes away
If you’ve been infected with the coronavirus as a result of your work, you may be eligible for compensation. Our team has helped many others in similar situations, and we may be able to help you, too. Don’t delay—contact our office right away with any questions you may have.