We are all struggling through an unprecedented time due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This global pandemic has infected thousands, and forced the sheltering of millions and closure of businesses across the world (including our offices). In Pennsylvania, hundreds have already been infected, with experts predicting the spread to get worse, before it gets better.
This condition attacks the respiratory system, and can cause grave bodily harm, especially in those particularly vulnerable. Disability, and death, can result from this condition.
We have started to receive telephone calls on whether being infected with COVID-19 can be a “work injury” under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. The short answer is yes, potentially, such an infection could be considered a “work injury” in PA. Basically, the typical analysis we use for any potential workers’ comp case would be applied in this type of case.
The first thing we would examine is whether the injured worker’s condition resulted from his or her employment. In this context, we are looking at whether we can prove the injured worker contracted the COVID-19 at or by his or her employment. Has there been contact with someone in the workplace, either co-employee or customer, who has tested positive for the coronavirus? Does the injured worker have a job at a “life-sustaining business” as that term as been defined by Governor Wolf’s Order, such that he or she has been in contacted with an infected person? This can happen most obviously with healthcare workers, such as nurses, doctors and technicians, but also with first responders, like fire fighters, EMTs and police officers. It can also happen in businesses which are remaining open to serve the needs of the public, like warehouses and supermarkets. Lest us also not forget delivery drivers, who also must have at least some contact with the general public.
Secondly, we would be looking at “disability.” COVID-19 can present from mild (some patients testing positive have reported no symptoms at all) to extremely severe (requiring hospitalization, and, in some cases, causing death). With quarantines in place, there may actually be a loss in earnings due to the condition without even having medical disability.
These will be complicated cases, and will involve issues which are not common in the PA workers’ compensation arena. Since both of our attorneys are Certified as Specialists in Workers’ Compensation Law, injured workers throughout Pennsylvania can be confident that by calling Brilliant & Neiman LLC, their work injury will be handled in the best way possible. You can reach us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or by telephone at 215-638-7500.