Can You File a Workers Compensation Case After Contracting COVID-19 at Work?
Missouri’s workers’ compensation law allows workers who have been injured on the job or who have contracted occupational diseases to file a workers’ compensation case. Under R.S.Mo. § 287.067(7), any employee who contracts a communicable disease while working is allowed to file a claim for workers’ compensation as an occupational disease. However, the problem with COVID-19 is that it has caused a pandemic, which makes it difficult for workers to prove they contracted it at work rather than somewhere else. This means that it can be difficult for most employees to prove they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits based on contracting COVID-19.
Emergency Rule for First Responders
If you are a first responder who contracted COVID-19 at work, the rules are different. The Missouri State Legislature passed 8 CSR 50-5.00 in April 2020, which was an emergency rule for first responders who contracted COVID-19 at work. Under this rule, first responders enjoyed a presumption that they contracted the novel coronavirus in the course of their employment, making them eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, the original emergency rule expired on Feb. 1, 2021.
On Jan. 15, 2021, the state adopted emergency rule 8 CSR 50-5.007, which replaced the original emergency rule for first responders. It clarified that first responders who enjoyed the presumption of contracting COVID-19 at work were limited to first responders acting in the line of duty, including the following:
- Emergency medical technicians
- Law enforcement officers
- Air ambulance pilots
- Air ambulance registered nurses
This rule was repealed by the Division of Workers’ Compensation in the Missouri Register on July 1, 2022. What this means is that first responders no longer enjoy the presumption that they contracted COVID-19 while acting in the course of their employment.
Filing a Workers Compensation Case for COVID-19
In general, workers in Missouri do not enjoy a presumption that they contracted COVID-19 at their jobs. They can file workers’ compensation claims for benefits, but their claims will likely be denied unless they have evidence showing that they contracted it at their jobs instead of somewhere else.
To recover workers’ compensation benefits, workers must present evidence that they contracted COVID-19 at work, making the illness a qualifying occupational disease. An ordinary illness that people in the general public can be exposed to such as the flu is not considered compensable. Instead, being exposed to COVID-19 at work has to be shown to be the main factor involved in causing the worker to contract the illness. This means you will have to show that you had an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 at work than members of the general public.
Talk to Our Workers’ Comp Attorneys
If you contracted COVID-19 at work and are wondering whether you can file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, you should contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave. While it might be difficult to prove that your illness qualifies as an occupational disease for workers’ compensation benefits, we can review your evidence and help you understand your rights. Call us today for a free consultation at 417-322-2222 (Springfield) or 417-624-4258 (Joplin). You can also contact us online.