Virginia Workers’ Compensation: COVID-19
Everyone has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though we are all working hard to prevent exposure to the virus, the omicron variant is highly transmissible. If you are a front-line worker, it is often very difficult to avoid coming into contact with someone who has COVID. If you contract COVID-19 and believe the exposure was a result of your job, do you qualify for Virginia workers’ compensation? What is the law regarding Virginia workers’ compensation and COVID-19?
Virginia Workers’ Compensation and COVID-19: New Laws
In 2021, the Virginia General Assembly passed several changes to laws covering workers’ compensation. These new laws created a “presumption” (meaning a COVID-19 exposure is believed to be job-related) for the following occupations:
- Healthcare Workers
- Police Officers
- Correctional Officers
Effective Date Virginia Workers’ Compensation: COVID-19
This new law was in effect for employees who tested positive for COVID-19 between March 12, 2020 and December 31, 2021. At the time of this article, it is not known whether the Virginia General Assembly will extend the exposure date past December 31, 2021.
If you were exposed to COVID-19 after December 31, 2021, call your Virginia legislator for the district where you live and tell them that you support an extension of the COVID-19 exposure deadline.
Virginia Workers’ Compensation COVID-19 Versus Injuries
Usually, most claims that are covered under Virginia workers’ compensation are the result of injuries caused by specific accidents. But, Virginia workers’ compensation law does cover certain diseases that are not considered ordinary diseases of life. In other words, for a disease to be covered it must be a disease that is related to your work and not something that everyone else might be exposed to outside of your work environment.
Because COVID-19 is not an injury and is something most people have a risk of being exposed to, the Virginia General Assembly passed a law creating a presumption that the employee contracted COVID-19 on the job. In these situations, workers do not have to prove that they caught COVID at work. It becomes the employer’s responsibility to prove that their employee actually contracted COVID outside of their job.
Exception the Virginia Workers’ Compensation COVID Presumption
The one exception to the presumption is if the worker who contracted COVID was offered a vaccine by the employer and refused it, the employee is not entitled to the benefit of the presumption.
How to Qualify for Virginia Workers’ Compensation COVID Presumption
To qualify for Virginia workers’ compensation coverage under the COVID presumption, workers must prove the following:
- the employee contracted COVID which caused medical expenses and lost time from work between March 12, 2020 and December 31, 2021
This proof can be offered through a positive test between the dates above or a diagnosis from a healthcare provider.
Don’t Get Hurt Twice!
If you’ve been injured on the job, it’s important that you know the pitfalls of the Virginia workers’ compensation process. Do you know what you need to do to make sure the insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you? Do you know what to do if your injury requires surgery or takes longer than expected to heal?
Talking with a lawyer after an injury on the job is always a good idea. A lawyer who has experience handling Virginia workers’ compensation cases can help you navigate this complex area.
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation team at the Ritchie Law Firm has helped thousands of injured workers figure out the workers’ comp system. We have helped injured employees get the medical treatment they need and recover compensation for their lost time from work. Because workers’ comp in Virginia can be very complex, it is very important that you make correct decisions for your claim from the beginning.
Your Virginia Workers’ Compensation Team
Our workers’ comp team is happy to sit down with you and talk with you to see if you have a claim that needs to have an attorney involved. It doesn’t cost anything to talk with us. We may give you information to help you handle your claim on your own. We have a wealth of information and resources available to us, and we’re always happy to share. Give us a call today at 800-277-6124 for your NO STRINGS ATTACHED conversation with our workers’ comp. lawyers. We handle Virginia Workers’ Compensation cases out of our offices in Harrisonburg, Winchester, Charlottesville, and Staunton, Va. Or, if you just want to test the waters first, get some more information by filling out the form below. We look forward to working with you.