COVID-19 has brought with it many struggles for everyone in the United States, and the world. In many cases, employees were still required to go to work during this global pandemic. However, under certain circumstances, exposure to COVID-19 at work could potentially entitle you to receive workers’ compensation. Navigating a claim for workers comp and COVID 19 in Connecticut can be confusing. This is especially true if your claim is contested, and requires that you provide adequate evidence to prove that exposure at your place of employment resulted in your contraction of the disease. Consider reaching out to Robert Sciglimpaglia, an experienced workers compenation attorney, to learn more about your legal rights at (203) 663-2803.
What the Law Says about Workers Comp and COVID 19 in Connecticut
According to Doe v. City of Stamford, 241 Conn. 692, 696 (1997), the Connecticut Supreme Court determined that exposure to an infectious disease is considered a compensable injury under workers’ compensation laws in Connecticut. As such, if you contracted COVID-19 at work in the state of Connecticut, you may have the legal right to file for workers’ compensation.
A press release by Governor Lamont, strengthened the connection between workers comp and COVID 19 in Connecticut. The executive order allowed workers who contracted COVID-19 to receive eligibility for workers’ compensation, under certain circumstances. The extension to eligibility for workers’ compensation payments allowed essential workers to file for benefits if they contracted COVID-19 between March 10th of 2020 and May 20th of 2020 without a positive test result.
What Are the Requirements for Workers Compensation Claims if You Contract COVID-19 At Work?
According to the Connecticut Supreme Court, in order to qualify for workers compensation for COVID-19, you must prove:
You were exposed to a particular infection (in this case, COVID-19)
The infectious disease is highly contagious (in this case, COVID-19)
Given your workplace circumstances, contracting COVID-19 was very likely.
The medical diagnosis, treatment, and time spent in quarantine were related to your COVID-19 infection
Filing for workers’ compensation in Connecticut is likely easier to prove for essential workers like healthcare professionals who were exposed to confirmed COVID-19 cases in their place of business. Healthcare workers at hospitals where patients are confirmed to have COVID-19 will find it easier to prove the causal connection between their work and exposure to the disease.
Food delivery employees, grocery store workers, pharmacists who provided medications for those with COVID-19, and many other occupations will find it more challenging to prove that they deserve compensation, but not impossible. These cases will be reviewed by the Workers Compensation Commission in Connecticut. The more information a worker can provide as evidence that they had interactions with people who may have been infected with COVID-19 given your occupation, the more likely your claim will be approved.
Seek Medical Evaluation
If you believe you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should:
Contact your physician for medical treatment and a COVID-19 test.
If your test comes back positive, you should report the incident to your employer immediately, if you believe that there is any chance you contracted COVID-19 from your place of employment.
In addition to any employer workers’ compensation reports, you may need to complete and file your Form 30C: Notice of Claim for Compensation with the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Steps After a Positive COVID-19 Test Result
If you become symptomatic or test positive for COVID-19, there are five things you should do to bolster your workers’ compensation claims:
Keep a daily journal of your work schedule, what activities you did at work, what times you were working, and where you completed your work activities.
List all of your symptoms and be sure to send them to your employer via email or text message so that you have proof of your communication.
Record any people with whom you came into contact, specifically those who may have been infected with COVID-19, or failed to wear masks (i.e. co-workers, clients, or customers). This information should also be sent to your employer or supervisor in writing via text message or email.
If you are aware of anyone else in your workspace who contracted COVID-19, send this information as well in written form to your supervisor.
Finally, keep track of the personal protective equipment (PPE) that you requested from your supervisor including masks, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer. List specifically if these items were used, or were requested but denied by your supervisor.
When Your COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Claim Is Denied
If your Form 30C for workers’ compensation is denied or contested, this does not mean you are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. You might receive in response a Form 43, which means your employer or their insurance provider is simply contesting the claim. At this point, you should request a hearing from the Workers’ Compensation Commission. To do that you need to fill out and submit Form HR.
If you are part of a union, you may be provided with legal representation for this part of the claim. However, you should consider contacting a workers’ compensation attorney to help ensure your legal rights remain protected.
Maintain Adequate Documentation
Make sure during this process you document any out-of-pocket expenses you have related to your treatment of COVID-19, including medication, co-pays, mileage to and from your doctor's appointments, and medical treatment. When your claim is accepted, these expenses will be reimbursed.
Similarly, you should document any charges against your paid time off, sick days, vacation time, or personal days. When a workers’ compensation claim is accepted and approved, the state of Connecticut will reimburse these days at the state workers’ compensation rate, which is contingent upon your individual salary with the company.
Contact a Workers Compensation Attorney
Navigating Connecticut workers’ compensation forms can be difficult, especially on your own. However, if you experience symptoms or tested positively for COVID-19 as a result of exposure in your workplace, you may have the legal right to pursue a workers’ compensation claim in Connecticut. Navigating the intersection between workers comp and COVID 19 in Connecticut can prove challenging and legally complex. Consider contacting the experienced workers’ compensaiton attorney Robert Sciglimpaglia at(203) 663-2803 to learn more about your legal rights today.