In light of the economic strain that has risen from combatting the COVID-19 virus, employers all around the United States are expecting a large influx of workers’ compensation claims. This is also because, currently, there are more than 124 million workers across the US who are covered under the workers’ compensation plan. Below are some concerns and possible situations that may result from this increase.
Primary Concerns For Workers’ Compensation
The largest sector placing worker’s compensation claims due to COVID-19 is the healthcare industry. Not only does this encompass medical practitioners and researchers, but also those who work in food-related healthcare services. The second-largest sector is public entities, a large portion of which are first responders.
As these industries are the ones most exposed to ailments that may affect a person’s immune system it’s no surprise that they represent two-thirds of the total COVID-19 worker’s compensation claims. With such an enormous amount of claims coming in, pre-existing claims may be held open for a longer amount of time. This will undoubtedly lead to unresolved workers’ compensation claims piling up, overwhelming almost every processing system.
Other sectors are represented by businesses with very high incoming and outgoing activity, such as grocery stores, and other essential businesses. At the beginning of the pandemic, many of the initial claims came from the transportation industries — such as airlines — but these saw a decline due to the shutdowns and travel regulations.
Currently, there may be a higher rate of claims cases that are reopened due to the economic pressures brought on by vast amounts of unemployment. Essential businesses will have to keep this in mind and investigate whether or not their reopened claims cases have any semblance of reasonableness to them.
Possible Legal Pitfalls
Being that the source of the COVID-19 virus is not as easily determined to be specified in the workplace, this raises concerns about a large number of rebuttals and increases the possibility of claims being caught in litigation. Whether or not workers’ compensation plans will cover workers who contract COVID-19 could become a matter of the state in which the business is located. Therefore, it will be up to employers to determine which legal disputes they should engage in. However, many jurisdictions currently require, at the very least, that quarantine and testing be covered under worker’s compensation, even before there is evidence on whether the employee has COVID-19 or not.