Florida’s Workers’ Comp Laws and COVID-19
Florida’s Workers’ Comp Laws and COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic is sending shockwaves through the labor market in the United States and the entire world. In the past few weeks, over 16 million United States workers applied for unemployment insurance, and this number is likely to increase. On the other hand, healthcare workers and other employees fear for their safety just by going to work during the coronavirus pandemic. Some of these employees include emergency responders, grocery workers, support workers, healthcare experts, and more.
If you contract COVID-19 on your job, you might wonder whether or not you are eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits. Here are the FAQs regarding Workers’ Compensation insurance and COVID-19.
1. Can I get Workers’ Comp benefits if I contract COVID-19?
Yes. You can get Workers’ Compensation benefits for COVID-19. However, the law requires you to show that you got infected with coronavirus because of the unique risk of exposure at work. This isn’t an easy burden to meet, particularly if you contract an infection that is easily transmitted from other people in public places. Coronavirus is an example of such diseases.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the stay-at-home directive are changing how we live. Some workers are waiting at home while other employees have to go to work every day. This makes it easy for healthcare workers and other employees who are still executing their duties during the coronavirus pandemic to prove that they contracted the infection in their line of work. If your job poses a high risk of infection, and you realize that you contracted COVID-19 because of your work, you can seek Workers’ Compensation benefits for coronavirus.
2. What are Florida’s special regulations for COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation?
The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Directive 2020-05 highlights the special regulations for COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation system. These regulations apply to the state’s frontline workers only. They don’t apply to the private sector employees, though the directive is instructive for how claims may be processed in the private sector.
According to this directive, Florida intends to honor Workers’ Comp claims for all State of Florida frontline workers. Covered workers include the state employees working directly with the public roles such as family protective services investigators, law enforcement officials, healthcare experts, emergency responders, and all other employees offering essential services.
The new regulations place the burden of prove on Florida State. That means the state will have to prove that you contracted COVID-19 while on official duties. The thing is if you’re a frontline employee and you contracted coronavirus, you can successfully seek Workers’ Comp benefits.
3. Are these special regulations different for COVID-19 in Florida State?
The new regulations shift the burden of proof from the victim (the frontline employee) to Florida State. In many occupational illnes claims, the employee has the responsibility to prove by clear and convincing evidence that they contracted the disease at work. If the infection is common to the general public, the burden of proof is particularly challenging. This is because you must show that you are particularly susceptible to the infection due to the nature of your job.
However, the new directive places the burden of proof back to Florida State if they decide to deny your claim. You, the employee, must prove that you have coronavirus and that you incurred medical-related costs, lost work, or you have both issues. If the state wishes to deny your claim, they must show that you didn’t contract coronavirus from work.
4. What do you need to do if you got COVID-19 from work?
It is essential to inform your employer as soon as possible if you firmly believe that you got exposed to COVID-19 at work. The employer will help you fill out the necessary documents to file a report. Remember, you need to be tested right away as part of the comprehensive medical evaluation. Also, you should contact a lawyer who can help you handle the entire process of filing a claim and documenting your exposure to COVID-19.
5. Can you get Workers’ Comp benefits for stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic?
To get Workers’ Compensation benefits for stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic, you must have suffered a physical injury. For instance, if you contract COVID-19 and have to be treated for stress and anxiety associated with the infection, you can include the treatment for stress as part of your claim. Note that Florida law 440.93 doesn’t allow Workers’ Compensation benefits for stress-related injuries if you don’t have physical injuries.
6. How do you file a Workers’ Comp claim for COVID-19?
The process of filing a Workers’ Compensation claim for COVID-19 is the same as the procedure you follow when filing other forms of Workers’ Comp claims. Report the infection to your employer immediately.
If you intend to file a Workers’ Compensation claim due to coronavirus (COVID-19), call us today at (561) 444-8822 to help you handle this issue. Consultations are free.