Healthcare Workers Compensation Claims From COVID-19
With the emergence of COVID-19 in the United States and New York quickly becoming the epicenter for this epidemic, this crisis is very much like wartime, especially in hospitals. Due to the rising contractions of the disease and death toll, Governor Cuomo was forced to implement Executive Orders directing the closure of all non-essential businesses. At the forefront of essential workers are those in the healthcare profession. According to CNBC, the New York State Nurses Association filed suit on April 20, 2020 against New York State and two hospital systems, alleging dangerous conditions that put health workers at risk causing lost time. Further, seven out of ten nurses are reporting exposure to COVID-19. Feuer, William. “New York nurses union on front line of coronavirus outbreak sues state and two hospitals over ‘war zone’ conditions.”
Due to the above, it is inevitable claims will be filed due to COVID-19 exposure. Under workers’ compensation law, an injury and personal injury is defined as “only accidental injuries arising out of or in the course of employment and such disease or infection as may naturally and unavoidably result therefrom.” WCL § 2(7).
From a legal perspective, here are some things you should know:
- An occupational disease is defined as “a disease resulting from the nature of employment and contracted therein.” WCL § 2(15).
- To be an occupational disease there must be a recognizable link between the disabling condition and a distinctive feature of the workplace. Jones v. Consol. Edison Co. of New York, 130 A.D.3d 1106, 12 N.Y.S.3d 639 (N.Y. App. Div. 2015)
- The test in determining whether claimant’s disabling condition is an occupational disease is whether employment acts upon that disease or condition in such a manner as to cause a disability which did not previously exist. Rodriguez v. Atlantic Gummed Paper Corp. (3 Dept. 1978) 61 A.D.2d 873, 402 N.Y.S.2d 238.
- An “accidental injury” is clearly distinguishable from an injury in the nature of an occupational or vocational disease, sustained in the course of an employment, where, from the inherent nature of the work, disease is likely to be contracted. Naud v. King Sewing Mach. Co., 1916, 95 Misc. 676, 159 N.Y.S. 910.
Claiming for Exposure to COVID-19
Health professionals by the nature of their profession are exposed to numerous infectious diseases, which now includes exposure to the novel COVID-19. Given today’s health climate with overburdened hospitals fraught with patients infected with COVID-19 and health workers without the necessary PPEs contracting COVID-19 is a natural incident of their profession. As such, any claim for workers’ compensation benefits should be pursued as an occupational disease in lieu of an accidental injury assuming there is medical evidence to support a diagnosis and causal relationship to employment.
Contact Your Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you are injured at work, the best thing to do is to contact the workers’ compensation lawyers at Daniella Levi & Associates. We have helped hundreds of injured workers get the benefits they deserve and helped to protect them and their families from financial ruin. There is no downside to contacting us to help you with your work injury claim. The initial consultation is free, the advice is priceless.