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Covid 19 & Workers Compensation

When Governor John Bel Edwards instituted stay at home orders on March 22nd to help stem the spread of  COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic which struck the United States on January 19, 2020 in Snohomish County, Washington, there were certain workers which were deemed essential.  These workers include those who work in grocery stores, utilities, healthcare workers, public safety workers, and many restaurants. Many of these workers lacked the protective gear necessary to keep them from contracting this serious illness. This has led to many phone calls to the Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC regarding workers’ compensation rules in Louisiana.

 

Louisiana Workers Compensation Coverage

All employers in Louisiana, with very few exceptions, are required to maintain a worker’s compensation policy for their employees. These policies are designed to cover medical bills associated with a workplace injury or illness as well as to provide some income while the employee recovers.

Some Employers Failed to Protect Employees

While many hospital workers are exposed to diseases every day, most of them have the proper personal protection equipment necessary to deal with such exposure. However, during the COVID-19 outbreak, many hospital employees are not being properly protected. Additionally, retail workers, postal workers, delivery drivers, and others not only lack protective equipment, many employers have failed to take proper precautions to protect workers from potentially coming in contact with a person who may be infected.

What Do We Know About COVID-19?

We know the novel coronavirus is highly transmissible. Here are some of the other things we have come to learn:

  • The virus attacks the respiratory system
  • Many people may be carriers but remain unaware
  • Every person who is a carrier can potentially infect another person
  • Symptoms may not manifest for up to 14 days following exposure
  • Coronavirus can live on surfaces for several hours, or several days
  • Distance, hand washing, and wearing a mask can help minimize the risk
  • People with underlying conditions including diabetes are more susceptible
  • We have no idea how many people are carriers or are infected

While it is a fact anyone may be a carrier and this may complicate your workers’ compensation claim, it should not stop you from filing a claim if you believe you were exposed on the job to the COVID-19 virus.

Unknown Long-Term Health Implications

Unfortunately, while we know the virus can be spread by contact with another person who is infected, whether they display symptoms or not, what we do not know could be as dangerous as the virus itself. People who have recovered from COVID-19 have indicated they still suffer from problems breathing and have less energy.

Currently, we do not know if there are long-term health problems associated with contracting coronavirus. As with any disease which strikes the lung, there is a potential for permanent damage which may impact your ability to return to work for weeks or months after diagnosis.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

For those who contracted COVID-19 as a result of being in their workplace, a workers’ compensation report should be filed with your employer immediately. While you may not be entitled to benefits for seven days after being out of work, chances are you will be forced to stay out of work for a minimum of two weeks (14 days) after you no longer have symptoms. During that 14 days, you will have to remain isolated as much as possible including separating physically from your family whenever possible.

Currently, testing for COVID-19 is lagging far behind the need for reliable information. In fact, as of April 9, 2020, only 81,406 tests have been complete across the entire state. This is significant because there are more than 4 million people living in Louisiana meaning only about .02 percent of the population has been tested meaning we have no idea how many people are actually stricken with the virus, or are carriers.

When Workers’ Compensation Claims are Denied

There is a high probability if you file a COVID19 workers’ compensation claim it will be denied. While you can, and should, appeal this decision, we understand the process is complicated and can be frustrating. That is why the Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC is here to help both those stricken and families who have lost a loved one to COVID19 as a result of on-the-job exposure to the coronavirus.

We understand your concerns, we know you cannot afford to be out of work, but we also believe every person who was exposed to the virus at their place of employment has rights and we are here to make sure those employers who have failed to follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for employers should be held accountable for your illness.

Workers Who May Be Impacted by COVID-19

Unfortunately, unless you are working from your home and have no contact with anyone outside your home, you may be exposed to the coronavirus. Employers should be ensuring anyone who has symptoms of a respiratory illness are sent home and their work area thoroughly disinfected. Employers should also be taking some of the following precautions:

  • Multiple washing/sanitizing stations
  • Ability to maintain safe distance between the public and employees
  • Ability to maintain safe distance between employees
  • Make masks and gloves available to employees
  • Allow more frequent breaks to ensure proper hygiene
  • Deep sanitizing of the facility where you are working regularly
  • Clear instructions on who can return to work following exposure

We understand you probably still have questions about whether your COVID-19 exposure may be as result of negligence on the part of your employer. We also understand you may have difficulty filing a workers’ compensation claim, or you may have your claim denied. We are here to help. Whether you are an employee who believes you contracted the coronavirus on the job, or you are a family member who has suffered the loss of a loved on due to on-the-job exposure to COVID-19, contact the Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC at 504-500-5000 for a free virtual consultation and let us help you with your workers’ compensation claim.