Stephen Hasner | Workers' Compensation | July 6, 2020
Since the beginning of 2020, more than 2.9 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19. Many of those people contracted the virus on the job. If you are one of them, you may be wondering if you can claim workers’ compensation benefits.
Am I Eligible to File a Coronavirus-Related Workers’ Comp Claim?
In the state of Georgia, almost all businesses that employ three or more people must carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. When an employee suffers an injury or an illness on the job, they can use this policy to claim benefits to help them cover their lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses.
To successfully recover their financial restitution, however, sick and injured workers must typically prove that their medical issues arose out of or in the course of their employment. In other words, insurers require them to show that they only got sick or suffered their injury because of their job.
If you tested positive for COVID-19 while working as an accountant, software developer, or administrative assistant, it is likely to be quite challenging to prove that your illness was caused by your work. Your employer’s insurer will almost certainly state that you contracted the virus elsewhere and deny your claim.
However, if you became sick with the coronavirus while working in a medical clinic, hospital, or elderly care facility with a lot of COVID-19 cases, your workers’ compensation claim will probably be much stronger. If your company’s insurer states that your illness is not work-related, you will have little trouble providing them with plenty of evidence to the contrary.
You may also be eligible to claim benefits if you contracted COVID-19 while working at one of the many factories and meat processing facilities throughout the nation that have reported a high number of cases. You will probably be able to use your colleagues’ diagnoses as evidence that your work caused your illness.
What Benefits Can I Receive If My COVID-19 Workers’ Comp Claim is Approved?
The benefits you can recover if your workers’ compensation claim is approved by your employer’s insurer depend almost entirely on the impact COVID-19 had and will have on your life. You will most likely be eligible to receive at least a couple of the following benefits:
Temporary Partial Disability
If your coronavirus symptoms forced you to work in a lesser-paying role for a few weeks or months, you should be eligible for temporary partial disability benefits. These benefits will help to cover the gap between your regular wage and your reduced wage for a short time.
Permanent Partial Disability
Should complications from COVID-19 force you to work in a lesser-paying position for the rest of your career, you will almost certainly be able to recover permanent partial disability benefits. The benefits of this nature can cover your reduction in income for an indefinite period.
Temporary Total Disability
If your coronavirus diagnosis leads to you missing work entirely for several weeks or months, you may be entitled to receive temporary total disability benefits. These benefits will help to cover your lost wages until you are cleared to return to your job.
Permanent Total Disability
Should COVID-19 prevent you from ever working again in the future, you will most likely be eligible for permanent total disability benefits. The funds you receive will replace your lost income for an indefinite period.
If you had to seek treatment at a hospital or medical clinic because of your coronavirus diagnosis, you should be able to claim medical benefits. These benefits will reimburse you for your out of pocket costs.
Rehabilitative Care Benefits
Should you need to go through therapy after your bout of COVID-19, you will most likely be eligible for rehabilitative care benefits. These benefits will help you cover the cost of your ongoing treatment.
What is the Deadline for Filing a Coronavirus-Related Workers’ Comp Claim in Georgia?
If you contract coronavirus on the job and wish to pursue a workers’ compensation claim, there are two deadlines you need to adhere to:
The Employer Notification Deadline
When you suffer a work-related illness or injury in Georgia, you must notify your employer within 30 days. It is usually wise to submit this notice via email – in case you need to use it as evidence during your case.
The Formal Filing Deadline
Section 34-9-281 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated explains that you must file a formal claim for workers’ compensation benefits within one year of the date you knew about or should have known of your COVID-19 diagnosis. Should you miss this strict filing deadline, you may lose your right to financial restitution.