Is the coronavirus an occupational illness?
Workers’ comp and employment law is notoriously complex. It is governed by a mass of complex state and federal regulations. If you have been injured on the job or contracted Covid-19, or an occupational illness, the worker’s compensation lawyers at Jebaily Law Firm has the knowledge, resources, and determination to seek the outcome you deserve.
South Carolina Workers’ Compensation for Occupational Illnesses Like COVID-19
On March 26, the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission adopted two new codes for “pandemic” and “COVID-19,” giving workers greater leeway to claim benefits related to the coronavirus outbreak. It covers COVID-19 claims effective December 2019 or later, according to an advisory from the commission.
South Carolina’s Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) office is our state’s workplace watchdog. It’s seen an uptick in complaints about safety violations since the COVID-19 crisis began, according to WIS-TV in Columbia. The agency fielded more than 300 inquiries in the first six weeks since COVID-19 was first diagnosed in the state. Of those, 135 were official complaints, and 99 are actively under investigation.
Those 135 complaints included problems such as:
- Lack of or inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Individuals working who had symptoms of COVID-19
- Not complying with social distancing
- Employers not listening to/acting on employee complaints
Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation for COVID-19
States are taking action to extend workers’ compensation coverage to include first responders and health care workers impacted by COVID-19. A common approach is to amend state policy so that COVID-19 infections in certain workers are presumed to be work-related and covered under workers’ comp.
This places the burden on the employer and insurer to prove that the infection was not work-related. It makes it easier for workers to file successful claims.
In South Carolina, House Bill 5482 is pending before the House of Representatives. If approved by the South Carolina General Assembly and signed by the governor, these workers would be covered by workers’ comp:
- First responders
- Health care workers
- Correctional officers
Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Injuries or Illnesses Contracted at Home
COVID-19 has caused a surge in mostly employees working from home. Are injuries or illnesses they sustain while working at home compensable? In general, injuries sustained during work at home for the employer’s benefit and with the approval of the employer are compensable.
Some cases, however, are more complicated. There is pressure on state legislatures to limit compensation if there are numerous claims for injuries like tripping over the family dog while working from home.
Contact a Workers’ Comp Lawyer Today for Help!
Cases have been brought alleging wrongful discharge, disability discrimination, and unhealthful working conditions during the COVID-19 era. Workers’ comp laws and regulations are in flux.
If you have been harmed in some way, this is not the time to go it alone. At Jebaily Law Firm, we’ve been leading the fight to protect victims in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee regions for generations. Call now to put our legal experience to work for you.