Workers’ Compensation & the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Can I bring a workers compensation claim if I was affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) at work?
As COVID-19 spreads, we are receiving more and more calls asking if a worker can bring a worker’s compensation claim if they test positive for COVID-19. The answer to this question depends on whether there is sufficient medical proof establishing a causal connection between the contraction of the virus and the workplace. In order for a worker’s compensation claim for the coronavirus to be allowed, a medical provider must say within a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the exposure to the virus occurred at work. In other words, there must be medical support that the initial exposure to the Coronavirus occurred at work. Certainly, with the rampant spread of COVID-19 it may be difficult to prove that the injured worker was exposed at work as opposed to somewhere else. Nevertheless, our worker’s compensation attorneys at Karp Steiger have successfully pursued numerous infectious exposure workers’ compensation claims in the past. The one thing all infectious disease cases have in common from a worker’s compensation perspective is the need to eliminate all other potential sources of exposure other than workplace exposure, which is not an easy burden, but in some cases, doable. According to David Steiger: “Karp Steiger has been representing the injured for over 50 years. During this time, the firm has handled in excess of 10,000 worker’s compensation claims. Infectious disease cases are far from routine. An injured worker who is exposed to the coronavirus should consult with an attorney that has been working these types of cases for many years.”
Due to the spread of COVID-19 the Industrial Commission of Ohio has mandated that all workers’ compensation hearings throughout the state of Ohio be done telephonically only. In addition the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has cancelled many state examinations that will result in the delay of processing of some benefits. The BWC has done some beneficial things in light of the spread of COVID-19 such as making the receipt of ongoing temporary total disability compensation easier. An injured worker can now complete his or her own disability form, waiving the need for the injured worker to be seen in person by a treating doctor. They have also permitted a doctor to telephonically treat injured workers. We are working hard day to day on making sure these changes do not disrupt our lient’s claims.
If you have any questions regarding the specific nature of a potential claim, please do not hesitate to call. There is never a charge for a consultation. Please call, email or fill out the form below if you would like to consult with an attorney at Karp Steiger regarding a potential workers’ compensation or personal injury claim. We have set-up 24-7 answering service to make sure that all inquiries are responded to in a timely manner.
If I contract COVID-19, is it a compensable workers' compensation claim?
It depends on how you contract it and the nature of your occupation. Generally, communicable diseases like COVID-19 are not workers’ compensation claims because people are exposed in a variety of ways, and few jobs have a hazard or risk of getting the diseases in a greater degree or a different manner than the general public. However, if you work in a job that poses a special hazard or risk and contract COVID-19 from the work exposure, BWC could allow your claim. If you think you may have a claim, call our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at (216) 358-6446.
If I am quarantined due to COVID-19 can I receive workers' compensation wage replacement benefits?
BWC can only pay compensation in an allowed claim for disability resulting from the allowed conditions. An executive order issued by Governor DeWine however, expands flexibility for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits during Ohio’s emergency declaration period. For more information on unemployment benefits and what you are entitled to, call our workers’ compensation attorneys at (216) 358-6446.
Is the BWC making determinations on new claims?
Yes. The BWC will be teleworking and have access to our systems. If you need assistance in making a new claim, call our experienced attorneys at Karp Steiger (216) 358-6446.
How will my benefits be extended when my doctor's office is closed, and they haven't completed my Medco-14?
The BWC has instructed its staff to continue payments to April 30, 2020, to minimize the chance of interruption of benefits for injured workers currently receiving temporary total compensation. Feel free to call our attorneys at (216) 358-6446.
Will my benefits be extended if I am participating in a rehab program?
To minimize the chance of interruption of benefits for injured workers currently receiving living maintenance compensation, payment plans have been continued to April 30, 2020. Feel free to call our attorneys at (216) 358-6446.
Will my wage loss benefits be discontinued if I'm unable to complete the job searches?
Job searches will be suspended until April 30, 2020 and all forms of wage loss payments (working wage loss/non-working wage loss, living maintenance wage loss) will be continued. Let Karp Steiger help you in this process by calling us at (216) 358-6446.
I have an Independent Medical Exam (IME) scheduled and it has been cancelled, will my benefits be suspended?
Your benefits will not be suspended. If you need to cancel the exam there will be no penalty for doing so. Let our attorneys help you by calling us at (216) 358-6446.
How will BWC be handling 90-day and extent of disability IMEs?
Currently the BWC has canceled all IMEs but will be exploring alternative means of obtaining medical evidence including “virtual” examinations. Let our workers’ compensation attorneys help you by calling us at (216) 358-6446.
Will I be able to speak with a claim representative?
If you are represented by an attorney, call your attorney first. BWC staff will be monitoring voice mail on a limited basis, but the most efficient method of communication will be via email messaging. If you are not represented by an attorney, please call Karp Steiger’s experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at (216) 358-6446.
What happens if my claim is denied or my employer does not agree with my claim?
The normal appeal process remains in place – parties to the claim will continue to have 14 days to appeal. The Ohio Industrial Commission (IC) will continue to have hearings. If you are not represented by an attorney, please call our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys to help you with your claim at (216) 358-6446.
How will BWC handle additional allowance and Temporary Total (TT) entitlement requests that would ordinarily require an IME?
The BWC will continue to process additional allowance and TT entitlement requests and seek physician file reviews instead of IMEs when possible. The BWC has also been exploring alternative means of obtaining medical evidence including “virtual” examinations. If you need help with your additional allowance and TT entitlement requests, please call our experienced attorneys here at Karp Steiger (216) 358-6446.
How is BWC addressing C-92 applications?
Except for an increase to a percent of permanent disability (%PP) award these requests must be sent for an IME. While IMEs are temporarily suspended, the BWC is exploring alternative means of obtaining medical evidence including “virtual” examinations. Let us help you with your application process by calling (216) 358-6446.
Will BWC be extending program reporting/requirement completion deadlines?
The BWC has been reviewing legal requirements along with other payment options. We can help you understand your best options if you need. Call Karp Steiger at (216) 358-6446.
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