In April, we called on New York lawmakers to expand workers’ compensation protections in the wake of COVID-19. We believe workers’ compensation benefits should be available to all workers who were likely exposed on the job and who subsequently become ill, or, tragically, lose their lives, regardless of whether their claim is easily defined as an accident or occupational disability.
Now, many states are passing or considering similar changes to workers’ compensation laws in light of the pandemic. According to a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal, several state legislatures are attempting to balance the need for increased access with economic concerns from corporations and their insurance companies.
States take different approaches
Some states are making it easier for front-line workers, such as firefighters and health care workers, to receive workers’ compensation benefits. In Alaska and several states in the Midwest, infected workers are presumed eligible for workers’ compensation. North Dakota and Louisiana have modified their rules to make it easier for workers to get benefits.
New York is among several states with pending legislation that would ease the burden of qualifying for benefits. Unfortunately, options for infected workers are still limited in the meantime. If an employee cannot prove that they were infected on the job, they might have their valid and necessary comp claim denied.
We are hopeful that New York lawmakers will do the right thing and pass sweeping relief for the state’s workers, making it easier for employees to get the benefits they need in a critical time.
As the situation develops, it is important that workers protect their rights as fully as possible. If you believe you were exposed to the Coronavirus on the job and became sick at work, it is wise to discuss your options with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation and personal injury attorney.