April 2020 - Workers' Compensation Benefits for Coronavirus and COVID-19

Can you file a workers' compensation claim if you think you developed coronavirus or COVID-19 in Missouri? This is a question for which many workers would like to know the answerincluding in the St. Louis area.  We want to first and foremost thank all of the employees in the businesses that keep us going in this time of great uncertainty.  This includes First Responders such as police officers, paramedics, EMTs, firefighters, and other medical personnel.  Our country cannot go on without these workers' dedication and sacrifice during this trying time. In order recognize the risk to their health, an emergency rule has been enacted in Missouri to create a presumption that First Responders who contract COIVID-19 did so in the line of duty to allow them to make a claim under the Missouri Workers Compensation law if they are sickened by COVID-19.

Can you file a workers' compensation claim if you think you developed coronavirus or Covid-19 while working in Missouri? This is a question for which many workers would like to know the answer. We want to first and foremost thank all of the employees in the businesses that keep us going in this time of great uncertainty.  This includes First Responders such as police officers, paramedics, EMTs, firefighters, and other medical personnel.  Our country cannot go on without these workers' dedication and sacrifice during this trying time.  While these workers are protecting us, we want to ensure their legal rights are protected.  In order recognize the risk to their health, an emergency rule has been enacted in Missouri to create a presumption that First Responders who contract COIVID-19 did so in the line of duty to allow them to make a claim under the Missouri Workers Compensation law if they are sickened by COVID-19.

This new rule makes it easier for First Responders to prove they have sustained an on-the-job injury and are thus be entitled to financial compensation.  To see Governor Mike Parson's new conference about this rule, click here.  The rule from the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is found here

 Who Is a First Responder in Missouri?

In Missouri, for workers' compensation, a first responder is a law enforcement officer, firefighter or an emergency technician (EMT).  

 What About Other Workers?

While first responders are affected by this rule, there are many other important workers that are on the front line during this time.  While many of these workers might be employees at essential businesses as they are defined under shelter at home orders, these types of workers are not covered by this special rule.  While first responders have a presumption that their COVID-19 or Coronavirus was contracted in the line of duty, cases for other types of employees may be more difficult.  This is because illness claims are sometimes problematic bcause it is difficult to pinpoint where and how a worker was exposed to a disease such as COVID-19. 

For regular workers to make these claims they will have to show that the occupational exposure to corona virus was the prevailing factor that caused the disease and disability.  An employee would have to show he or she was at higher risk than those in the general public for exposure to COVID-19 or Coronavirus.  In other words, the disease cannot have come from a hazard or risk unrelated to the employment that workers would have been equally exposed outside of work and in normal non-employment life.  

 What Benefits Will be Allowed for COVID-19 Work Comp Cases?

The benefits available to workers who have successful workers compensation claims where they contracted coronavirus or COVID-19, the benefits should be the same as those regularly allowed under Missouri law.  These benefits include reimbursement of lost wages, payment for medical treatment, payment for permanent partial disability or in the worst case - payment for permanent total disability.  A summary of the benefits available under Missouri Workers' Compensation law can be found here.  The long-term repercussions of COVID-19 are not known but some believe, in addition to respiratory or lung damage, the virus may also affect other organs such as the kidneys or liver.  

 With all of this in mind, first responders will have an easier chance to make a successful claim for workers' compensation benefits than other types of workers.   These cases will have to work their way through the workers' compensation courts before people really know how they are going to be received.  

If you or a loved one believes you contracted coronavirus (COVID-19), please contact us for a free consultation. 

 

 

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