Many businesses and organizations are fast adapting to new working conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From social distancing to wearing nose masks and adopting strict health measures, employers hope to limit its spread rate drastically. However, despite the strict adherence to safety procedures, there’s still a significant risk of employees contracting the virus among themselves. That’s especially because an employee may resume work without realizing that they’re already infected.
If you’re an employee in North Carolina, those facts may give rise to valid concerns. You may have some questions, such as: What happens when a COVID-19 positive co-worker exposes me to the virus? Will I have a valid workers’ compensation claim under the Workers’ Compensation Act? Can I claim against the responsible colleague directly?
The answers to the questions above depend on a lot of factors and your case’s peculiarities. We’d provide a guide on how to approach them in this article. You can consult with a qualified North Carolina worker’s compensation attorney for more information on the subject.
Is COVID-19 Compensable Under North Carolina’s Work Comp Law?
North Carolina’s work comp covers injuries and illnesses that arise due to a worker’s job. To qualify as a work-related injury, it must be due to an accident at work or an occupational disease. Those two factors significantly determine your chances of success in a work comp claim for the Coronavirus. However, because of the nature of the virus, most COVID-19 work comp cases will be treated under occupational diseases.
Occupational diseases are listed in the Workers’ Compensation Act, and they include anthrax, zinc poisoning, occupational loss of hearing, etc. By way of definition, occupational diseases are conditions that arise due to increased exposure to triggers at work. This mainly applies to health workers and paramedics whose jobs place them at high risk of contracting the virus.
So, if you’re a healthcare worker or first responder, your COVID-19 is compensable under workers’ compensation. You may also be eligible for compensation if there’s a COVID-19 outbreak in your workplace of 5 or more employees.
You can also claim compensation for COVID-19 exposure under injury by accident in some unique cases. An accident here means an unusual and distinct event that occurs while carrying out your work duties. Your Charlotte work comp lawyer will let you know if you’re eligible for compensation under injury by accident. They will also direct you on how to commence the claims process if you are qualified.
Can I Claim Against My Co-Employees for Contracting COVID-19?
If you’re confident that your co-employees are responsible for your COVID-19 infection, you may be tempered to take action against them. However, this may be impossible to do. That’s because, under workers’ compensation, you can’t hold a co-employee liable for their negligent acts that caused your injuries. In other words, workers’ comp limits your ability to claim against a work colleague for their ordinary negligence.
However, there are some exceptions to that rule. You may claim against your co-employee if their action that led to your contracting COVID-19 exceeded simple negligence. That is, you must be able to show that their actions were reckless, intentional, or willful.
What Benefits Can I Receive After a Successful COVID-19 Work Comp Claim?
Contracting COVID-19 would necessitate that you self-quarantine for some time — usually for at least 14 days. So, apart from suffering from ill health, you may not be able to work and earn money for a period. As such, you deserve the following types of compensation to ease your pain:
If you’re covered under workers’ compensation, your employer’s insurance will foot your medical bills.
Compensation for Time Spent Off Work
You may get financial benefits for the periods you stayed off work due to the virus.
Damages for Permanent Damage to the Lungs
COVID-19 can cause permanent damage to your lungs alongside other permanent conditions. Your employer may be liable to pay compensation for such permanent damages.
Contact a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer ASAP!
Coronavirus is a highly contagious disease with devastating symptoms. The effects transcend the physical and can cause psychological harm to affected persons too. If you contracted the virus from a co-employee, you could get compensation under certain circumstances. However, it’s a complex process, and you need a qualified Charlotte workers’ comp lawyer to help you succeed.
Our workers’ comp lawyers in Charlotte, NC, will assess your claims and advise you on the best steps to take. If you’re eligible for compensation, we will ensure that you get your benefits swiftly. Contact us immediately for a free case evaluation.