People in many areas feel that things were done too late to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Now, others feel that perhaps things are getting back to “normal” a bit too soon and there is still danger looming in the workplace.
Many of the questions we’ve been receiving lately have to do with how to handle the possibility of COVID-19 in the workplace. We see questions like:
- What can I do if I contract COVID-19 from a coworker?
- What are my options if I think COVID-19 is present in my workplace?
- Can I lose my job if my boss wants me to work but I don’t feel safe returning?
The simple truth is that trying to get back into some sort of normal routine after everything that has happened is a very uncomfortable situation for everyone. Even the most well-informed authorities aren’t quite sure what’s going to happen as quarantine and “shelter in place” orders become more relaxed.
What Can You Do If You Suspect You Contracted COVID-19 In The Workplace?
The truth is, it may be possible to sue for damages through workers’ compensation if you can prove that you were infected while at work, but doing so will be extremely difficult and, in the end, unlikely.
Health care providers are required to follow very strict federal guidelines about how they operate, but for other businesses, regulations are not the same and things can vary greatly between states, counties, and municipalities.
In order to receive workers’ compensation for something, you have to prove that the injury or disease you’ve incurred happened specifically because you were working and could not have happened anywhere else or for any other reason. With something like the spread of the coronavirus, proving that is nearly impossible.
General Requirements For Businesses Reopening
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), under general circumstances, requires that all businesses reopening after the shutdowns mandated by coronavirus precautions establish provide workers with a workplace “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm”.
As part of that mandate, as businesses reopen after shutdowns caused by the coronavirus, OSHA is recommending that all companies follow CDC guidelines as closely as they possibly can, including instructing employees to keep six feet away from each other and/or customers, taking temperatures, disinfecting surfaces, and providing face masks, hand sanitizers and barriers when appropriate.
The Burden Of Proof Is On You
If you believe you’ve contracted COVID-19 from a coworker, your only real chance of recovering any type of compensation is going to be through worker’s compensation. The catch with workers’ compensation, however, is that it will likely mean you give up your right to sue any individual or other parties who you may later decide were involved.
Being in the middle of a pandemic, even knowing that some jobs put people at a higher risk of catching the virus, the bar for proving that becoming infected by the disease was work-related is still very high.
Alternatives That May Help If You’ve Contracted COVID-19
While proving fault for contracting the disease or a case for collecting worker’s compensation, federal and state governments have put several different plans into action specifically to help workers who’ve found themselves unable to work because of this illness.
The federal government, for instance, created the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and even has a very comprehensive FAQ page that will answer any questions and show you how it may benefit you and your family.
Pennsylvania has also put together many COVID-19 resources for state residents:
- State Resource And Assistance Programs
- Pennsylvania State Grants And Special Programs
- Food And Nutrition Service Waivers And Flexibilities
- State Business Resources And Reopening Guidelines
Speak With A Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorney
If you have contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus and you believe it may be because of your work or the negligence of someone else, you may be entitled to compensation to pay for the resulting consequences.
Our team at Solnick & Associates has the experience and knowledge to help you establish the strongest possible case and go after the fair and full compensation to which you’re entitled. You can contact us online anytime or call (877) 415-6495 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is free and confidential. We’ll be happy to go over the details of your case and discuss exactly what we can do to help you.