Personal injury Lawyer Matt Arnold answers the question: “What qualifies a person to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits?”
As employees of essential businesses and frontline workers, such as doctors and nurses, continue to go to work in North Carolina during the coronavirus pandemic, some of them end up contracting the virus while on the job.
Diagnosing and treating COVID-19 can cost tens of thousands of dollars, especially if the infected worker develops a serious illness. Will the infected worker’s employer compensate for these and many other expenses via the workers’ compensation insurance?
Workers’ Compensation and Coronavirus (COVID-19) in North Carolina
Are essential and frontline employees entitled to workers’ comp benefits if they contract COVID-19 while on the job in North Carolina? This is not a yes-or-no question, as a worker’s eligibility for benefits will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
However, state and federal laws regarding coronavirus are constantly evolving, which is why it is best to consult with a Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney to get the most up-to-date information on the matter. Also, it is advised to begin gathering documentation of your COVID-19 infection and employment status as early as possible.
The Cost of Medical Care for COVID-19 Patients
Under North Carolina law, most businesses are required to purchase the workers’ comp insurance to cover their employees in the event of work-related illness or injury. This no-fault insurance covers medical expenses and some lost wages associated with an employee’s inability to work due to a disease or injury.
A recent report by CNBC showed that individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 could pay up to about $75,000 if they are uninsured or if the medical care they receive is considered “out-of-network” by their insurance carrier. By contrast, insured individuals who use in-network providers are expected to pay up to nearly $39,000.
Eligibility for North Carolina Workers’ Comp When Infected with COVID-19
Like in many other states, North Carolina’s workers’ compensation law lists nearly 30 injuries and illnesses that are considered compensable “occupational diseases.” The full list can be found at General Statutes § 97-53 (page 52).
However, the law also provides exclusions for “all ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is equally exposed outside of the employment.”
Despite this exclusion, which may bar workers from seeking compensation benefits upon their contraction of COVID-19, they may still be eligible for benefits, but only if you can prove that:
- The coronavirus disease can be identified by North Carolina’s law as “an occupational disease,” or
- You became infected from exposure at work while performing assigned job duties, or
- You were at a higher risk than the general public for contracting COVID-19 because of your job duties.
Obviously, it would be imperative to establish that coronavirus was contracted on-the-job to be eligible for workers’ comp benefits. In light of this, frontline workers such as doctors and nurses, who are at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19 while on the job, are more likely to receive benefits.
Speak with our Charlotte workers’ compensation attorneys to determine your eligibility. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to discuss your situation. Contact our knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, for a no-obligation consultation. Let us assist you in handling your case during these tough times. Call at (704) 370-2828 to receive a consultation with our lawyers to explore your legal options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and Monroe.
The skilled personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to maximizing the financial recovery and obtaining justice for every personal injury client injured by another party’s negligence. The issues our personal injury clients may be facing include, but are not limited to, slip and fall injuries, wrongful death, product liability, catastrophic injuries, dog bite claims, car and truck accident injuries, motorcycle injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI), nursing home negligence, spinal cord injury, boating accidents, and defective medical device injury. Our personal injury attorneys understand the devastating impact such an injury can have on a person’s life, and that the effects so often go beyond physical pain and suffering. The personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to helping clients determine the strength of their claims, and to aggressively pursuing the means necessary to achieve the best possible end result for each client’s particular situation.
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