Can I Apply for Workers' Compensation in New York for COVID?

New York state allows workers' compensation benefits for coronavirus infections for individuals who can demonstrate their COVID-19 illness was work-related. A successful claim will depend on numerous the facts, including whether your job contains a high exposure risk.

If you work with the public with documented COVID exposure, you are more likely to have a compensable workers' compensation claim. First responders, healthcare workers, transportation workers, corrections and peace officers, food service workers, and retail associates are a few examples of high COVID risk jobs. 

However, the New York State Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) assesses these claims thoroughly, and you must build a strong case. The mere existence of a pandemic is not enough to link your profession to your infection. Hiring an experienced workers' compensation law firm like Terry Katz & Associates is the best first step to compiling a successful claim.

What Should You Do If You Test Positive For COVID?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer guidelines for workers who test positive for COVD. Following these steps helps your recovery while also limiting exposure to your co-workers.  They include:

  1. Notify your supervisor as soon as you see the results. Use writing or email; avoid text messages unless you have no other option. Once your office knows, they can inform their workers' compensation insurance carrier.
  2. To file a workers' compensation claim, give us a call at 888-488-7459, and we will file a Form C-3. This task is likely the last thing you want to handle while sick, so delegating it to our experienced workers’ comp lawyers at Terry Katz & Associates is a wise choice.
  3. Once your attorney submits Form C-3, the WCB will provide you with a list of approved doctors who can verify your infection. You may attend this appointment via telephone or video conferencing. Make sure you tell this doctor you believe you caught the disease at work.
  4. Ask your treating physician to send the positive test result to us, and we will send the Workers’ Comp Board your COVID positive test results.

Meanwhile, even with locations reopening, keep yourself safe and support your recovery. Stay home, avoid public transportation, and follow your medical provider's advice. If you face distressful symptoms or a fever spike, call your doctor or 911 immediately. 

The sooner we file the forms, and you seek treatment, the sooner you will see benefits. However, even if you take these steps correctly, your employer's workers' compensation insurance may still deny the claim. They may claim your illness is not work-related or even dispute the medical report. If that occurs, the WCB assesses your claim for validity by reviewing medical evidence and testimony.

Do I Have a COVID Workers' Comp Claim?

The claimant has the burden of proof in COVID-19 workers' compensation claims. We need to show you contracted the virus "on-the-clock" in your work environment.

Usually, workers' comp claims involve an obvious workplace injury that is witnessed by co-workers. Illnesses are often systemic due to poor conditions and employer neglect, and many workers may hide symptoms. 

COVID claims are more tricky. Symptoms vary between people, and some infected people show no signs of infection. Tracing a specific source of infection is nearly impossible unless you can show a co-worker attended work after a positive COVID-19 test or you had direct contact with a COVID carrier.

A successful claim is more likely to arise from Terry Katz & Associates, proving your work area contains a higher-than-normal COVD-19 risk. This elevated risk arises from work environments, locations, duties, schedules, and, when applicable, public interactions. 

Specific elements we use to assess risk include:

  • The nature of your work duties: If you work indoors in crowded places and meet different people regularly, that is a risk element. Even if your work in an isolated office, explain any access to public facilities or if other people use your work area. Keep in mind that many collaborative office spaces set people less than six feet apart. 
  • Public or people contact: When you interact with other people, you are all sharing social bubbles. You may be careful in your daily practices, but if the person at the desk next to you still attends large gatherings, they are at risk. You do not necessarily need heavy public interaction to catch this virus; your irresponsibly social coworker may have shared it with you. The same is true if you share office spaces or attend meetings with people who refuse to wear a mask. 
  • Unique developments: A coworker attending work with a cough and fever or recent positive tests at your workplace can also help your COVID claim. If you hire an attorney, they will likely investigate these possibilities, just in case your workplace never notified its employees of current infections. 

For example, service workers in a busy grocery store may have a more straightforward claim because of a crowded work environment with constant foot traffic. That situation creates a greater risk of exposure. But office workers with secluded night schedules and no public interaction may have a more challenging time proving their infection is an occupational disease. 

When we file Form C-3, a WCB-authorized physician assesses your work environment factors and enters a report regarding your illness. That report indicates whether you caught the infection at work or if your work environment made COVID infection unlikely. 

An experienced lawyer at Terry Kratz & Associates can review this report and see if it missed essential facts (like a co-worker's positive test). If so, they can appeal the decision. 

COVID Workers' Compensation Benefits

If the WCB links your infection to your work environment, you may be entitled to the following benefits:

  • Payment for medical treatment associated with your COVID infection;
  • Wage replacement benefits for the time COVID renders you unable to work;
  • Payments to surviving dependents if the infection results in death; and
  • Funeral expense reimbursement up to $12,500 in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, and Westchester counties and up to $10,500 in other counties in New York state. 

Payment timelines on COVID-19 claims vary. Once your employer informs its insurance carrier of your infection, it has 18 days to decide and start paying benefits. If the insurance company denies the claims, the WCB board reviews it. There is no firm timeline for WCB review, but it works to process claims and hear disputes as quickly as possible. 

Free Consultation with a New York Workers' Compensation Lawyer 

COVID-19 is a new area for workers’ compensation claims in New York. You may face more challenges with a COVID infection claim than if you filed a claim on a more traditional workplace injury or illness. Finding attentive and dedicated legal representation for your COVID claim may prove essential when insurance carriers challenge your claim and put your benefits at risk. Terry Katz & Associates are here for you if you tested positive for COVID due to your working conditions.

Since 1992, we have helped over 25,000 New Yorkers secure benefits when they require recovery time, face disability, or need to change careers. We are ready to use that experience in your favor.  Contact our Long Island office at 888-488-7459 to start your claim.

Terry Katz, Esq.
Terry Katz, Esq., the founding Member of the firm, handles all aspects of Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability cases.

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