Can You Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits If You Contract COVID-19 While Working?

On March 7, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202 declaring a disaster emergency in the State of New York in response to the threat posed by the COVID-19 outbreak. In June 2020, the Workers’ Compensation Board released a comprehensive COVID-19 & Workers’ Compensation Q&A document to answer a number of questions regarding COVID-19 exposure at work. The Board specifically addressed whether employees can receive workers’ compensation benefits if they contract COVID-19 while working.

 

According to the Board, if an employee contracts COVID-19 while at work, the employee may receive workers’ compensation benefits. The employee has the burden of proving that their workplace or the nature of their work posed a significantly elevated risk to COVID-19 exposure. Examples of such environments include; health care workers, first responders, transportation workers, corrections officers, and food service workers. In addition to working at high-risk environments, the employee must also provide a medical report from an authorized workers’ compensation medical provider, stating that the COVID-19 diagnosis was caused by work.  The Board will take into consideration multiple factors when determining causal relationship of COVID-19 to work. Some factors the Board will consider are: how often the employee works, type of job duties, whether the employee was required to have contact with the public, etc.

 

If the Board determines that an employee’s COVID-19 diagnosis is causally related to work, the employee will be entitled to causally related medical treatment, wage replacement benefits for lost time, benefits to an employee’s surviving dependents in the event of death and reimbursement of funeral expenses up to $12,500 in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, and Westchester counties, and up to $10,500 in the other counties of New York.

 

There are many factors to consider when determining whether to accept or deny a workers’ compensation claim for COVID-19 exposure. Please contact Usra Hussain at uhussain@bhlfirm.com or (201) 880-9374 for more information or to discuss whether a COVID-19 claim should be denied.