How Does Virginia Workers’ Comp Affect Workers Who Contract Coronavirus

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a challenge for workers in many ways. Not only do workers have to worry about having reliable childcare, now the pandemic also raises the possibility that they might get sick.  In some states, workers may be filing workers’ comp claims if they get sick with COVID-19.  Read on to learn more about Virginia workers’ compensation and coronavirus.

Many Virginia Workers are at Risk for Illness or Injury

While many businesses have transitioned to having their employees work from home in order to promote social distancing, other industries are unable to do that.  Healthcare workers, public safety workers, and first responders are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 due to their direct contact with coronavirus patients. Aviation, transportation, hospitality, construction, manufacturing, retail, distribution, as well as others among others may still be working in close quarters.  This puts those employees at greater risk of exposure to the coronavirus through contact with customers, coworkers, and others. In all of these jobs, employees are likely working harder and longer hours than usual.

Other workers prone to injuries:

  • New hires. Some businesses are now hiring new employees to help meet increased demand. These new employees, who may be working in unfamiliar environments, potentially with little or no time for orientation or safety training, could be at higher risk for work injuries.
  • Telecommuters.  Telecommuting could potentially provide a new area of consideration for workers’ compensation injuries.  Often, employees may face the potential for work-related injuries while they are working at home.  The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to growing anxiety and mental stress and forced many employees to share makeshift home workspaces with spouses, children, and pets.  These conditions may potentially lead to “work” injuries.

Virginia Workers’ Comp for Healthcare Workers and First Responders Diagnosed With COVID-19

If you are a first responder or healthcare worker in Virginia and have contracted COVID-19, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation.  Here are some answers to questions being asked about COVID-19 and Virginia workers’ compensation:

How does workers’ compensation work in Virginia?

In Virginia, the workers’ compensation system protects employees and employers. Employees receive medical treatment and are compensated for lost wages associated with work-related injuries and disease, and employers provide for the cost of such coverage while being protected from direct lawsuits by employees. Usually, to be eligible for workers’ compensation in Virginia, an employee’s injury or occupational disease must be caused by something specific to the employee’s work environment rather than something that everyone could be exposed to.

If I contracted COVID-19 at work, is that a work-related injury or disease?

In Virginia, an illness caused by work exposure could be considered an injury or an occupational disease if there is a greater chance of exposure due to your work place. For instance, because many people will be exposed to the COVID-19 virus, such exposure will not generally be covered under Virginia Workers’ Compensation.  However, as of the date of this book, an Executive Order has been drafted which would provide workers’ compensation coverage to healthcare workers and first responders who have contracted the coronavirus.  As new information becomes available, the Ritchie Law Firm will provide updates.

How do I report my work-related exposure to or illness from COVID-19?

As soon as you know that you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and you believe that diagnosis is related to your job, you should report your diagnosis to your supervisor/employer.

I’m a healthcare worker or first responder and contracted COVID-19 will my claim be covered?

As we stated earlier, Virginia workers’ compensation covers injuries or occupational diseases that were caused by some risk factor in the workplace.  In ordinary situations, contracting a virus would not qualify a worker for workers’ comp in Virginia.  But, an Executive Order has been drafted and presented to Governor Northam.  Until that Executive Order is signed, we are likely to see healthcare workers’ COVID-19 claims denied by their workers’ compensation insurance carriers.  As a result, it is a good idea to fully document your work days during this time along with the types of illnesses you were exposed to.  Now is also the time to contact your state senator and/or delegate asking them to urge the Governor to sign the Executive Order ensuring that Virginia Workers’ Compensation law will cover our healthcare workers and first responders who contract COVID-19.  You can find a listing of your legislator by area at this website https://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/

Talk To a VA Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If you’ve contracted COVID-19 on the job in Virginia, it is wise to talk to a lawyer who is experienced in workers’ compensation claims. At the Ritchie Law Firm, you can talk to us for FREE . . . NO STRINGS ATTACHED! We can give you advice on your claim before you make a decision that could damage your case. Check out our article on “How Much Does a Workers’ Comp Lawyer Cost”.  You can also download a free copy of our book, “What You Should Know About Workers’ Compensation.”

At the Ritchie Law Firm, we have successfully handled thousands of workers’ compensation claims. We’ve seen injured workers who have trusted the insurance adjuster only to find out that their time to file the paperwork to protect their claim had expired.

Virginia Workers’ compensation is a complex system that can be very difficult to navigate. Be very careful to make certain that your rights are protected before you sign anything. Talking to our workers’ comp lawyers about your claim is free. If we take your case, we don’t get a fee unless we win your case. There is no risk to you to get some information about your case before you make any decision that might negatively affect its outcome.

For more than 45 years, the Ritchie Law Firm has successfully helped thousands of injured workers navigate the complex workers’ compensation process. The Ritchie Law Firm specializes in serving injury victims. We never represent insurance companies or corporations. If your workers’ compensation case is going to hearing, you will want a trial expert on your side. We are board certified trial specialists through the National Board of Trial Advocacy. The attorney you choose for your workers’ compensation case can make all the difference.

Choose wisely. . . you can talk to us for FREE.

Call today 800-277-6124 or fill out the form below.

Ritchie Law Firm serves injured workers in all of Virginia while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester. Check out case studies from some of the cases we’ve handled by clicking here.