OH Workers’ Compensation for COVID-19
As Ohio continues to deal with the COVID-19 coronavirus, many individuals put out of work by a COVID infection may have questions about whether they should seek workers’ compensation benefits.
Most people employed in Ohio qualify for workers’ comp benefits if they contract an occupational disease that arises out of the course of their employment. The question when seeking benefits is whether a case of COVID qualifies as an occupational disease. Generally, communicable diseases such as the flu do not qualify for workers’ compensation because people may be exposed in a variety of ways not connected to their jobs.
You are more likely to qualify for workers’ comp based on a COVID-19 infection if you have a job that puts you at greater risk of getting COVID-19 than a member of the general public faces.
The northeastern Ohio workers’ compensation attorneys of Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill, Co., LPA, are reviewing workers’ compensation claim cases related to occupational exposure to COVID-19. Our firm helps injured workers seek the full benefits available by law. We know the Ohio workers’ compensation system.
Which Workers Infected by COVID-19 Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?
Ohio workers’ compensation law defines occupational disease as a disease contracted in the course of employment, “which by its causes and the characteristics of its manifestation or the condition of the employment results in a hazard that distinguishes the employment in character from employment generally, and the employment creates a risk of contracting the disease in greater degree and in a different manner from the public in general.”
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become more apparent that healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential workers whose jobs required that they routinely interact with the public, were more likely to be exposed to the virus.
In several pieces of legislation that have yet to pass, Ohio lawmakers have proposed ensuring workers’ compensation coverage for COVID-19 contracted by workers in certain occupations, including:
- First responders
- Health care workers
- Corrections officers
- Grocery store workers
- Food processing workers
- All essential workers
Two bills filed in 2020, H.B. 573 and H.B. 571, proposed amending Ohio’s workers’ compensation laws to include COVID-19 on the list of scheduled compensable occupational diseases. This list names diseases that automatically make an employee eligible for workers’ comp payments. H.B. 571 would only apply to “peace officers, firefighters, and emergency medical workers,” but H.B. 573 would apply more broadly to any employee who was required to work outside of his or her home during the coronavirus state of emergency.
We believe this is evidence of what workers would be more likely to have a strong case that they contracted COVID-19 because of their job duties – including anyone deemed essential enough to be required to work outside of their home.
What Evidence Would You Need for a COVID-19 Claim?
Workers’ compensation claims that meet certain criteria for exposure to the coronavirus will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).
A claim is likely to move forward if the following criteria are met:
- There was an increased risk or greater likelihood of contracting the condition due to your occupation.
- If not for being required to perform your job at a specific location, you would not have been exposed to the virus or contracted the condition.
- You can identify a specific source or event during the performance of your job that resulted in exposure to COVID-19.
First, your claim would need medical records that indicated a diagnosis of COVID-19. Then you would need to provide evidence that convinced a workers’ comp claims examiner that it is likely you contracted the virus because of your job duties.
If you work in a job that poses a special hazard or risk for exposure to COVID-19 such as a health care worker and you can demonstrate that you contracted the coronavirus from exposure while at work, the BWC may allow your claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
You’ll need evidence to show a connection between your employment and your condition (COVID). This may be your job’s requirement to frequently interact with the public in person and in close proximity and the rate of COVID among the public in Ohio at the time of your diagnosis.
In typical cases of communicable disease, because the condition is likely to be found in any workplace or common to all employment, a claim for contraction of the disease from a co-worker will be denied. However, if you were required to attend the workplace to perform your job and contracted the disease there, we believe it may be argued that your exposure arose out of the course of your employment and is a valid claim.
Our Attorneys for Help with Your Claim!
At Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill, Co., LPA, we will stand up for what’s right regarding workers in northeastern Ohio who have contracted COVID-19 because they have fulfilled the duties of their jobs. We want to see ill workers treated fairly by Ohio’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and provided all of the benefits they are due.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with COVID-19 that you believe was job-related, contact a workers’ compensation lawyer at Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill, Co. The law in Ohio provides you two years from the date of your diagnosis to file for workers’ comp benefits.
We have been a workers’ compensation law firm dedicated solely to protecting the rights of injured workers, injury victims, and the disabled in the Mahoning Valley since 1985. We know how to make the system work for you. Contact us today.