Many employees and workers throughout the Cleveland area are falling ill from COVID-19, and others who work for “essential” businesses may be putting themselves at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 from exposure to other people who could be asymptomatic. Can those workers seek workers’ compensation benefits if they are diagnosed with COVID-19? The answer to that question depends upon a few different issues.
First, I want to say more about who may be at risk of contracting COVID-19 at work, and then I will tell you more about seeking compensation for this disease from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). If you have any questions at all about your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits, do not hesitate to get in touch with me.
Fewer Workers are on Jobsites
Back in March, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health ordered all non-essential businesses to close in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Yet, according to that order, many businesses are still considered “essential,” and as such, many employees who are able to work are continuing to do so. For example, some essential workers are those that you might expert — supermarket employees, gas station and convenience store clerks, pharmacy technicians, laundromat employees, public transit workers, and healthcare providers.
Yet the order has room for businesses to make cases for their “essential” nature. Accordingly, some construction projects continue, and certain real estate work is still taking place, just to name a couple of examples. As such, many workers are still being exposed to the coronavirus in Cleveland, and some of those workers may end up testing positive for COVID-19. If you are still leaving your house to go to work, I know you are probably wondering: Can I seek workers’ compensation benefits for a COVID-19 infection?
Did Exposure to Coronavirus Arise Out of the Course of Your Employment?
For an injury or occupational disease to be compensable through the Ohio workers’ compensation system, it must arise out of the course of employment. If you were not exposed to the novel coronavirus while you were working, the disease will not be compensable. However, if you were exposed—and you know for certain that your exposure occurred while you were at work—then you may be eligible to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, but you will still need to get beyond another obstacle.
What Type of Job Do You Work?
Is the industry in which you work one that places you at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than a member of the general public? The answer must be “yes” in most cases for the BWC to say that workers’ compensation is possible for a COVID-19 infection. Certain jobs like gas station attendants or real estate agents may not be at higher risk of exposure to coronavirus, according to the BWC, than someone who does telecommuting from home but leaves the house to buy groceries and to pump gas. However, healthcare workers are likely at much greater risk of exposure than the general population.
Contact Me for Help with Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you are unsure about your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits, I can help. Call my office today at 877.944.4373. I’ll Make Them Pay!®