Can I Still Get Workers’ Compensation If I Catch COVID-19 At Work?
After more than two years, many U.S. employers have begun to settle into a reality where COVID-19 is omnipresent. However, there is still quite a lot of confusion as to what recourse Connecticut workers have should they contract the condition, especially on the job. In 2020, Governor Ned Lamont signed an executive order extending workers’ compensation protection to those who contracted the condition in the early days of the pandemic, but since then, little has changed, which leaves quite a lot of workers out in the proverbial cold.
In Connecticut, workers’ compensation regulations protect those who work for a covered employer, which would cover nearly everyone in the state (at least in theory). However, the only way that COVID-19 claims can fall under workers’ compensation law in Connecticut is by classifying it as an occupational disease, and as of this writing, COVID-19 is not in that category. There was a bill during Connecticut’s previous legislative session to add COVID-19 to that list, but it was unsuccessful.
An occupational disease is defined as a disease that is “particular” to a specific profession or line of work, carrying a greater than average risk of catching that condition. For example, in other areas, COVID-19 has been declared an occupational disease for healthcare workers, given the higher likelihood of them catching the condition. However, as of this writing, there is nowhere where any worker in any profession may seek workers’ compensation coverage simply because they caught COVID-19. The state has created a new relief program, but it is only accessible to those who contracted COVID-19 between March 2020 and July 2021.
There have been a handful of workers’ compensation claims brought in Connecticut, seeking compensation for catching COVID-19 on the job – in 2020, a few hundred claims were brought each month, totaling approximately 2,670, though the number of claims approved are unknown as of this writing. If you work in a high-risk injury, where you believe that you can establish COVID-19 may qualify as an occupational disease, it may be worth it for you to attempt it.
That said, if you are not able to use workers’ compensation laws to seek compensation, it may be possible for you to take advantage of other laws. For example, if you are ill, you may be able to seek paid sick leave under Connecticut law, or even file a federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claim. Regardless, it is a good idea to consult a knowledgeable attorney before doing anything concrete.
Contact A Stratford, CT Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Workers who contract COVID-19 on the job have options, but in truth, it may be difficult to get the compensation you deserve. A knowledgeable Stratford workers’ compensation attorney from the Morizio Law Firm may be able to help answer your questions, and point you in the right direction for you and your family. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.