With the COVID-19 pandemic, the question is popping up daily in our office: will a worker who contracts COVID-19 be covered workers' compensation laws?
COVID-19 is new to all of us. Courts are closing, mediations are being cancelled, and the legal community, as a whole, is attempting to address the effect of this virus. However, the novelty of the virus leads to more questions than answers.
Typically, under the Longshore Act, Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, or the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, an injured claimant must be able to demonstrate the causal relationship between the occupational injury or illness and the workplace. The same is true for claims handled under the Defense Base Act. It is unknown as to whether medical practitioners will be willing to give a definitive answer on the causation issue. Other workplace factors can also play a role, like: Were you required to travel and were exposed during work travel? Is there a confirmed case at your job and you can identify the source of the virus? Once causation is addressed, the extent of the disability will need to be addressed. Again, given the novelty of this virus, even the medical professionals are still gathering evidence to establish more definitive answers for us all.
Here at The Law Firm of Charlene A. Morring, PC, we are committed to represent injured longshore workers and those covered by the Defense Base Act, Virginia Worker’s Compensation Act, and the North Carolina Industrial Act. As more information is developed about this novel issue, we will continue to monitor the legal developments related to workers' compensation claims.