Dear Friends & Clients,
We think it is important for all of our first responders, health care providers, and others coming face to face with the public, and incurring increased risks of catching the coronavirus, to know their rights! We are dedicating our staff and firm resources to being there for you in your time of need, as you have been there for us! Call us any time at 856-283-0589 or email us at Contactus@ciecka.com with any questions or problems concerning the coronavirus that you have. We pledge to be there for you now and in the future! We can deal with all issues and inquiries electronically and digitally to avoid further risks! Call us and Count on Us as we have counted on you! Our phone number is 856-283-0589 and our email contact is Contactus@ciecka.com.
Basic FAQ’s – COVID-19 (Coronavirus exposure), Workers’ Compensation, and other Legal Recourse:
A 1st Responder believes they were infected with the Coronavirus on their job. Do they have legal options? Answer: Yes.
If they are a first responder or one of the many front line healthcare workers, EMTs, doctors, nurses, aids, technicians, assistants, police officers, firemen, nursing home workers, cashiers, bus drivers, or other person who’s job requires them to come face to face with the general public and incur increased risks of the Coronavirus, the likelihood is YES. The New Jersey law creates a presumption of compensability for those public safety workers who are subjected to a potential exposure, including airborne exposures, to a serious communicable disease. The definition of a public safety worker includes police, fire, emergency squad personnel, and many other categories of first responders, including “any other nurse, basic or advanced medical technician responding to a catastrophic incident and directly involved and in contact with the public during such an incident.”
View Long Term Health consequences of Covid-19.
A cashier at a local grocery store believes they were infected with the coronavirus on their job. Do they have legal options? Answer: Yes.
If you were exposed to the Coronavirus on the job, you must prove that the exposure occurred at work. You must also prove that getting the virus was part of an “inherent task,” such as bagging groceries or stocking shelves, etc. Presently, there is a legislative bill to raise a presumption during this pandemic/crisis that essential employees’ illnesses are related to their work. This includes grocery store cashiers, and others to be named.
Does an injured worker have to prove that their job was at fault for some reason for causing me to get the coronavirus? Answer: No.
A worker does not have to prove that their employer was negligent or did something wrong. The worker only must prove that the injury occurred at work and was caused by the job. If the Coronavirus came as a result of exposure(s) they incurred due to their job, which triggered, precipitated, exacerbated, aggravated, or caused COVID-19, it would be a compensable Workers’ Compensation claim.
Is the coronavirus considered an injury under State Workers’ Compensation Laws? Answer: Yes and No. An illness caused by work exposure might be considered an injury or it might be analyzed under state laws as an Occupational Disease or Illness, depending on the type of work performed.
An Occupational Illness is defined as one which “arises out of and in the course of one’s employment,” which employment by its nature, “increased the risks of contacting the Coronavirus to a greater degree than one would incur if in the general public.” The increased risks are generally peculiar to the specific job. Medical proofs will have to be presented by doctors and specialists.
Is a family or estate entitled to benefits if the worker dies because they got the coronavirus on the job? Answer: Yes.
In New Jersey, if the worker can prove that they caught the virus on the job and the virus caused the death, then the estate and/or dependent (spouse or other) is entitled to benefits. Normally in New Jersey that means payment of medical bills relating to the virus, a funeral monetary benefit, and also temporary and/or permanent disability benefits. This often can mean the spouse (if the other spouse dies due to the virus on the job) is entitled to receive 70% of the deceased spouse’s pay for life or until remarriage.
How to report a work-related exposure to or illness from COVID-19 to your job?
You should report your injury to your supervisor/employer as soon as you know you are infected and believe it is related to your job. Report it verbally to your supervisor and HR department and manager. Also report it in written form. The sooner you report it, the better. New Jersey requires a 14-day notice in most cases and up to 90 days in others. There can be different time requirements for occupational cases. It’s safe to say that you should report it to your employer as soon as you know or have reason to know that you got Covid-19 at work. Pennsylvania requires reporting to your employer within 21 days of the injury or when you know of the injury, to be completely covered, and up to 120 days after the injury to be covered from the date you give notice. There is a first report of injury form that is required to be filled out.
What if you believe that you caught the coronavirus and got sick from a co-employee who tested positive for COVID-19?
You should report and give notice of your injury to your employer immediately and tell them you want to file a Workers’ Compensation claim. Document your notice and discussions.
What if your employer shut down their office due to the coronavirus pandemic; directed all employees to work from home; and you broke your leg in a fall while doing something for work at home?
You should report and give notice of your injury to your employer immediately and tell them you want to file a workers compensation claim. You must prove that you were working at home, doing something for your employer, when you were injured for it to be compensable. However, if you were at home due to your employer closing their office because of the Coronavirus pandemic and you fell, breaking your leg when you went out to your car to carry in personal groceries, your employer would deny the claim and it would not be compensable. The facts of each case would be determinative.
What Benefits am I entitled to if I get COVID-19 at work?
You are entitled to the same three benefits that any injured worker can get: temporary, medical, and permanency benefits. Temporary: wage replacement while out of work and under treatment; Medical: payment of medical bills; and Permanency Benefits: a settlement at the end of your case if you have ongoing affects from the virus. There are many rules for each of these benefits that we can help explain to you further.
Healthcare Workers and 1st Responders: Protect your self now! Medical Experts and Scientists are now pointing to permanent injuries and long term medical conditions caused by the Coronavirus. These include permanent injuries to your heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, nervous system, digestive system, and other serious effects. Contact us immediately to protect yourself and file for the worker’s compensation benefits you are entitled to. View Long Term Health consequences of Covid-19. Call us 24 hours a day at 856-283-0589.
My job is fighting me and saying that I did not get COVID-19 while working. Do I have legal rights? Answer: Yes.
It is common for employers and their insurance companies to fight the claim that a worker makes. It is helpful for the worker to document medically and any way they can that they got COVID-19 at work. If you got it from a patient, a coworker, or on a substance at work you need to document it as best you can.
If you think you got COVID-19 at work and are still suffering the effects of it, call our office for legal help.
LAW OFFICES OF VINCENT J. CIECKA