MINNEAPOLIS WORK COMP LAWYERS — WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COVERAGE FOR EMPLOYEES WHO CONTRACT COVID-19
Does Minnesota Workers Compensation Law provide benefits to an employee that contracts Covid-19 at work?
Yes – indeed. If it is clear that the COVID disease was contracted on a worksite, whether the employers home business site or an off-site workplace, the employee is entitled to received workers compensation benefits. Note that an employee that contracted Covid-19 while working at home is probably not entitled to benefits. Keep reading below for questions and answers regarding the legal implications of Covid-19.
1. What does the presumption law do?
The Minnesota Workers’ Compensation presumption law provides that employees on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, as described in Question 2, are presumed to have contracted a workers’ compensation occupational disease if they become ill with COVID-19. A summary of this law is available here on our website or at www.dli.mn.gov/updates.
2. Who is covered by the presumption law?
An employee is entitled to the presumption if they contract COVID-19 on or after April 8, 2020, while employed in one of these occupations:
a licensed peace officer under Minnesota Statutes, section 626.84, subdivision 1;
a paramedic or an emergency medical technician;
a nurse or health care worker;
a correctional officer or security counselor employed by the state or a political subdivision (such as a city or county) at a corrections, detention or secure treatment facility;
a health care provider, nurse or assistive employee employed in a health care, home care or long-term care setting, with direct COVID-19 patient care or ancillary work in COVID-19 patient units; and
a person required to provide child care to first responders and health care workers under Executive Orders 20-02 and 20-19.
The employee’s date of injury is either the date the employee was unable to work due to contraction of COVID-19 or was unable to work due to symptoms that were later diagnosed as COVID-19, whichever occurred first.
3. Is there a definition of “assistive employee” or “ancillary work”?
The presumption law does not define “assistive employee” or “ancillary work,” although a reasonable argument can be made that the terms include professional and nonprofessional employees who performed a variety of work in a health care setting, in addition to nurses and health care providers. Any employee who works in health care and believes they might have COVID-19 due to their employment should take the steps identified in Question 6.
4. Do employees need to be tested for COVID-19 to qualify for the presumption?
No, employees do not need to be tested for COVID-19 to qualify. An employee can qualify by showing either: a positive laboratory test or, if a test was not available for the employee, a diagnosis based on symptoms by a licensed physician, licensed physician’s assistant or licensed advanced practice registered nurse. A copy of the test results or the diagnosis by one of these listed health care providers must be provided to the employer or insurer in order to qualify.
5. What does it mean to “rebut” the presumption?
If an employee has contracted COVID-19 and is employed in one of the occupations as described in Question 2, the illness is presumed to be a workers’ compensation occupational disease and is compensable, unless the employer “rebuts” (disproves) the presumption. The employer may only rebut the presumption by proving the employee’s employment was not a direct cause of the disease. The employer has the burden of proving that while performing his or her job duties, the employee was not exposed to COVID-19 or the exposure to COVID-19 could not have been a cause of the employee’s illness.
6. What should an employee do if they think they contracted COVID-19 while working?
The employee should notify their employer as soon as possible after they develop symptoms they think could be COVID-19. There are time limitations for reporting an injury to the employer. (See www.dli.mn.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/infosheet_reporting_work_injury.pdf.) The employee should keep a record of when they developed symptoms and when they notified their employer of those symptoms.
Further, the employee should seek medical care from one of the health care providers identified in Question 4 and request a test for COVID-19. If a test is not available, the employee should request that the health care provider document that a test was not available, and further document their symptoms and provide a diagnosis of whether they believe the employee has COVID-19. The employee should provide a copy of the test results or the diagnosis to their employer or their employer’s insurer.
7. What are an employer’s obligations when an employee reports an injury or illness?
The employer must file a first report of injury with the workers’ compensation insurer or claim administrator. The insurer or claim administrator must notify the employee in writing within 14 days to state whether the employee’s claim is accepted or denied. If the employer does not file a report of injury with its insurer or claim administrator, the employee may call the Department of Labor and Industry for help. (See Question 13.)
8. What are an employee’s rights if their workers’ compensation claim is denied?
Information about an employee’s options if their claim is denied is at www.dli.mn.gov/business/workers-compensation/claim-process-claim-denied.
9. Can I still make a workers’ compensation claim related to COVID-19 if I am not employed in one of the occupations described?
Yes, an employee who has COVID-19 but who does not fall into one of the occupations described in Question 2 can still claim a workers’ compensation injury or occupational disease if they believe their illness is due to their employment. The employee should notify their employer as soon as possible. The employee can also call the Department of Labor and Industry for assistance.
10. What benefits are available to employees under workers’ compensation law?
Workers’ compensation benefits include medical treatment, monetary benefits for wage loss and permanent disability, dependency benefits under Minnesota Statutes, section 176.111, and vocational rehabilitation benefits. Information about workers’ compensation benefits is available on our website here and here, as well as multiple blogs that discuss this topic.
11. Are employees entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they are exposed to COVID-19 at work and are required by their employer to self-isolate?
If an employee is not ill, but must stay home from work because they were exposed to the COVID-19 virus, they are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. If an employee was exposed at work and later contracted COVID-19, the illness may qualify as a workers’ compensation injury. Talk to a qualified attorney for information about your specific circumstances.
12. When does the presumption law expire?
The presumption law provides that the COVID-19 presumption expires at 11:59 p.m., on Dec. 31, 2021. Employees with dates of injury that occur on or after Jan. 1, 2022, are not entitled to the presumption in section 176.011, subdivision 15, paragraph (f), but are not precluded from claiming an occupational disease as provided in other paragraphs of section 176.011, subdivision 15, or from claiming a personal injury under section 176.011, subdivision 16. (See Question 9.)
13. Is other relief available to workers who contract COVID-19, aside from workers’ compensation benefits?
Yes, information about other worker protections can be found by speaking to a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer. An information sheet is also available here on the Minnesota Department of Labor’s website. This is also available in Hmong, Somali and Spanish at www.dli.mn.gov/updates.
14. Where can I get help with questions about the new law or workers’ compensation benefit?
If you or a loved one have developed Covid-19 symptoms while laboring at your place of work, you should speak immediately with one of our attorneys at Schmidt Salita Law Team for a consultation to determine if you qualify for the Covid-19 workers’ comp. presumption, how to go about properly providing notice and pursuing workers’ compensation benefits for your condition, and all your legal rights according to Minnesota law. Our workers’ compensation expert attorneys understand the nuances of work comp claims and can be a reliable resource for injured workers in Minnesota.
PERSONAL INJURY LEGAL SERVICES WITH A PERSONAL TOUCH!
A Schmidt Salita Workers Comp Lawyer will come to your home, or the hospital, for your initial visit. The Schmidt Salita Law Team strives to provide personal injury legal services with a personal touch to help the victims of personal injury through a very difficult time in their lives.