Here's the problem with workers' comp for Covid-19. Workers' comp has never covered communicable diseases like colds and the flu because it's impossible to prove that the illness was contracted in the course and scope of employment. That's never been a problem because these illnesses are rarely serious and rarely lead to a disability. Along comes Covid-19. Yes, it's a communicable disease similar to the common cold. Still, it also causes serious illness, and—as we're discovering—it appears to cause long-term disability in some people. So, can you collect workers' comp?
It All Depends on Your Job
It's not enough to be able to prove that you contracted Covid-19 from a co-worker while at work. You also have to show that your work puts you at a greater risk of contracting the disease than the general public. If you are an office worker exposed to a sick co-worker, you would not have a claim. However, healthcare providers, first responders, and—possibly—grocery store employees and bus drivers are at greater risk of contracting the virus and might have a claim if they get Covid. Several bills pending in the Ohio legislature would grant presumptive approval for Covid-19 to first responders, corrections officers, healthcare providers, and other essential workers. Other states have passed such legislation, but Ohio has not yet got the votes.
In the early months of the pandemic, the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) formed a special team to review and evaluate Covid-19 claims. As of March 31, 2021, the BWC had received 2,235 claims related to Covid-19 and had approved 836; 212 claims were denied, and 64 were still pending as of the report date. About half of the claims were dismissed for being incomplete or were withdrawn by the applicant. According to the BWC, "If you work in a job that poses a special hazard or risk and contract COVID-19 from the work exposure, we could allow your claim."
If You Are Approved for Benefits, You Should Be Able to Extend Benefits
If you got your initial workers' comp claim for Covid-19 approved, and you discover that you are one person with lingering symptoms, you should be able to get your benefits extended. People with post-acute Covid have experienced these debilitating conditions:
- Cognitive impairment
- Extreme fatigue
- Anxiety and depression
- Joint pain
- Permanent lung damage
- Inflammation of the heart
- Kidney dysfunction
It is still too soon to know how long these conditions can last in patients. Still, many require ongoing medical treatment, including respiratory therapy, dialysis, heart monitoring, and physical therapy. When these conditions prevent you from working, you should have a strong claim to continue workers' comp benefits.
Contact Monast Law Office With Your Questions
As coronavirus infections decline and the U.S. gets back to normal, people with long-haul symptoms are left behind. If you are one such person and need help with workers' comp benefits, contact my office to get the information you need.