One of the greatest public health threats we currently face is the COVID-19 pandemic. While it isn’t as deadly as other diseases such as the bubonic plague or the 1918 flu pandemic, the threat it presents to the public lies is real enough to warrant the government to set physical distancing protocols.
Even when vaccines have already been developed and are well on their way, the threat still looms. Healthcare workers are particularly at risk of infection. While there are laws that promote the safety and well-being of employees, it’s still important to know how the law protects workers when they become infected in the workplace.
Basic Elements for a Workers Compensation Claim
To determine if you’re eligible for a workers compensation claim, you first need to be able to establish these five elements:
Prescription – Before a medical worker can file a claim, it must first be determined that the claim is filed within the prescriptive period. Generally, a worker must file a complaint within three years from the time that the infection was discovered. A claimant can no longer file a claim if the prescriptive period has elapsed.
Employment – Only employees are eligible for a workers compensation benefit. Independent contractors and employees of the same are not eligible for a workers compensation except in special cases when a contract may be reviewed in order to determine eligibility.
Injury – The infected worker must be able to present a medical condition that resulted from exposure in the workplace and this fact must always be verified by a medical certificate. A link between the disease and the injury or infection must also be established by the medical certificate.
Duty – The injury must have occurred while the worker was performing his or her duties. This entails that the time, locale, and circumstance dedicated required that the worker had to be exposed to the disease. It must first be proven that the worker was placed in harm’s way because of the worker’s employment.
Cause – Finally, the medical examination must also prove the causality between the worker’s exposure at work and the medical condition. This relationship can be direct, aggravating, accelerating, or precipitating.
Why Are Independent Contractors Generally Not Eligible for a Workers Compensation Claim?
The reason behind this is that independent contractors work separately from the company that hired them, thus, they are not entitled to any of the benefits that would otherwise be made available to regular employees.
However, this does not mean that workers compensation benefits are beyond the reach of independent contractors and their employees. Independent contractors have the option to obtain their own worker’s compensation insurance. Whether you’re working for an independent contractor or for a private company, it’s always important to always ask yourself “what are my rights as an employee?”
The COVID-19 pandemic still presents a real threat, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the only danger that employees need to be wary of. If you feel that you’ve been infected because of exposure to a disease in the workplace, never hesitate to seek help from lawyers.