Can Your Employee File Workers’ Comp If They get COVID-19 in Florida?

The emergence of COVID-19 has changed nearly every aspect of daily life for people all over the world. The work lives of many Floridians have changed and workers’ compensation is changing along with it. As employers and employees are forced to quickly adapt to the changes that are necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19, some employers are wondering whether their employees can file workers’ comp claims if they get COVID-19 in Florida. This article will answer this question and provide additional information about the workers’ compensation policies provided by Florida workers’ compensation insurance brokers NPN Brokers.

Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Coronavirus in Florida Is Circumstantial

If you’re an employer that is wondering whether your employee can file for workers’ comp if they get COVID-19, know that their claim will depend on the type of work they do. Claims are valid if the employee contracted coronavirus at work while doing tasks that make them susceptible to contracting the virus. Workers that contract COVID-19 through interactions outside of the workplace or in the workplace that do not require them to interact with COVID-19 patients have a high chance of having their workers’ compensation claim denied.

The employees that are most likely to file for workers’ comp if their get COVID-19 are the ones that are required to be in contact with people that are certain to have it. This includes doctors, nurses, health care workers, paramedics, firefighters, law enforcement, and members of the Florida National Guard. Claims made by these types of employees are likely to be fulfilled. Claims that are made by employees that have been deemed essential but are not necessarily in contact with people that have coronavirus (such as grocery store employees and people employed by fishing companies, landscaping and tree removal companies, HVAC companies) will have their claims examined on a case-by-case basis. Employees with coronavirus that are neither essential nor required to be in contact with people that have COVID-19 (such as office workers) will likely have their claims denied.

Your Employee’s Eligibility for Workers’ Comp Coverage with COVID-19

Since workers’ compensation is based on a no-fault system, injured employees are not required to show that their employer’s negligence caused their injury. Instead, they are only required to prove that their injury was caused in their workplace and was caused by their job requirements. Based on this system, employees can make valid workers’ compensation claims if they can demonstrate that they contracted COVID-19 in their workplace while performing their normal duties.

Coronavirus May Be An Occupational Disease

Workers’ comp is intended to compensate employees for their injuries and while COVID-19 is not technically an injury, it may be considered an “occupational disease.” A disease generally meets the criteria of being occupational disease if it arose out of the employee’s course of employment and if the illness arose out of (or was caused by) the conditions that are peculiar to a specific type of work that carries a higher risk of contracting the disease than the general public does. According to these criteria, employees whose jobs require them to be exposed to patients with COVID-19 can consider COVID-19 to be an occupational disease and are likely to receive compensation through their workers’ compensation claims.

Meeting Florida’s Criteria for an Exposure Injury

It’s possible for employees to file for workers’ compensation on the grounds that COVID-19 is a type of exposure injury. If an illness or disease meets the following criteria, it can be considered an exposure injury.

First, the employee must have had prolonged exposure to the substance that caused the illness (in this case, the substance is the virus itself). For employees of hospitals and others that are required to be exposed to COVID-19 patients, showing that they were exposed to the virus for a prolonged period of time is easy. Second, the employee must show that they were injured (or that their preexisting condition was aggravated) due to their exposure to the substance. (This can be shown with a positive test result). Third, the employee must show that the hazard they were subjected to was greater than the hazard that the general public is exposed to on a regular basis.

The third criteria are the most difficult to prove and will be most employees’ biggest obstacle to filing their workers’ compensation claim since it’s hard to prove that the virus was contracted in the workplace and not somewhere else.

Providing Medical Evidence

Employees will need to provide medical evidence that shows that they have coronavirus to support their workers’ compensation claim. A test that shows a positive result for coronavirus can be used as evidence. If an employer believes that they can show that the employee contracted the virus outside of the workplace, they can contest the employee’s claim.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Coronavirus Workers’ Comp Claims

Typically, workers that were injured in their workplace can receive compensation for their medical bills and the wages they lost while they were unable to work. Employees with COVID-19 can receive compensation for the cost of treatment for the virus and a portion of the wages they lost while recovering and quarantining.

Contact NPN Brokers for Information on Workers’ Compensation Policies

NPN Brokers will be there for employers as they deal with changes to their industries and the lives of their employees as they struggle to deal with the impact of COVID-19 on a global scale. Get in touch with NPN Brokers today if you have any questions about whether your employees will be able to make workers’ compensation claims or if you’d like to get a quote on a policy.