Despite the heightened risks of the COVID-19 outbreak, each day, hard-working people still go to work or work from home and are injured on the job. We wanted to make sure that workers’ compensation and other legal information is available because we have received many calls and know that you are concerned and have questions and concerns and we want to help you through them. So, we put together a list of general questions and answers we hope will help you better understand the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system.
In our effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, our lawyers and staff are working remotely. We are fully operational from home and will be responding to all your needs. All of us at Pearson Koutcher Law will provide immediate help by virtual meetings through video conferencing, Zoom, Facetime, or Google Hangouts. Keep yourself safe at home, and let PK Law take care of you. Call 215-627-0700 or email us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your case.
Stay safe and healthy,
Eric and Jon
Disclaimer: If you believe you have been exposed to Coronavirus (COVID-19) you should follow the self-quarantining and medical treatment guidelines provided by the CDC.
Q: Am I entitled to workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania if I am exposed to Coronavirus (COVID-19) at work?
A: Yes. While there are important reporting requirements, a worker who contracts COVID-19 at work in Pennsylvania may file a claim as an “injury-at-work” claim, which is a typical hurt on the job claim and requires you to provide medical proof that you were exposed to COVID-19 in your workplace. This is the type of evidence that all work injury claims require. Or, you may file an “occupational disease” claim, which would require evidence showing that your exposure to COVID-19 is occurring more in your industry or occupation than in the general population such as nurses and medical professions, utility workers, grocery store and retail employees, police officers, firefighters, first responders, truck drivers, and sanitation workers.
Q: What if I am forced to quarantine and/or undergo testing for a possible exposure to the virus?
A: You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits even if your test results are negative. Pennsylvania Courts have held that persons exposed to a serious risk of contracting a disease at work, which is commonly known to be highly contagious and potentially deadly, have been deemed “injured” to receive compensation under workers’ compensation laws in Pennsylvania. Please remember that we recommend providing notice to your supervisor even when your test results are negative.
Q: How do I report my illness to my employer?
A: Properly reporting a potential virus exposure to your employer is essential to a successful claim. Immediately contact your supervisor. We recommend doing so by text to limit the spread of the virus and to be able to provide proof that you gave notice as to your belief that you were exposed to the virus at work and any symptoms you are having. You must specify that you believe you were exposed to the virus at work. DO NOT allow your supervisor to convince you that you were exposed outside of work if you do not believe that to be the case. Exposures outside of work are not compensable by workers’ comp.
Q: Do I need to see a company doctor if I believe I was exposed to COVID-19 at work?
A: Maybe. Whether you are legally required to see the workers’ compensation doctor provided by your employer depends on if your employer maintains a panel physician list. You should ask if your employer has such a list and, if they do, ask that it is provided to you immediately. If they do not have a list, you are free to get tested and treat wherever you would like. Explaining to any healthcare professionals you speak to or are examined by that you believe you were exposed to the virus at work is vital to not only containing the spread of the virus but also to establish that your illness is work-related.
Q: What if I am laid off while out of work for a work injury or while working light duty?
A: While layoffs for COVID-19 have not been litigated before the courts to date, it is our opinion that it is likely the employers will be required to continue your workers’ compensation benefits or reestablish your wage loss payments until you are found to be fully recovered.
Q: What if I am injured while working from home?
A: Work injuries that occur while working from home are likely to be compensable. This could be true even if you are not performing a regular job duty. The courts are still accepting new claims for work injuries unrelated to COVID-19.
Q: I am currently receiving workers’ compensation benefits due to an accepted work injury, can those benefits stop during the COVID-19 outbreak?
A: No. Neither your wage-loss benefits nor your medical benefits can be stopped or changed solely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Your benefits have to be challenged the same way before the virus outbreak.
Q: My work has closed due to COVID-19 and I have been laid off, can I receive workers’ compensation?
A: A layoff due to your work closing is not a work-related “injury” for purposes of workers’ compensation. However, you may be entitled to unemployment compensation.
We hope we have provided helpful information, if you have any further questions or go more into your specific case, contact Eric, email@example.com, Jon, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 215-627-0700 for a free consultation.