Historically, state workers’ compensation benefits have not covered illnesses, such as a flu or other contagious disease, even in cases where an individual was likely exposed at work. However, in some states, including Michigan, essential employees may now be covered by workers’ compensation insurance if they become ill with the coronavirus.
Jay Trucks explains more about Michigan’s approach to protecting the state’s frontline workers, as well as the requirements for filing a workers’ compensation claim if you have COVID-19.
If you are a first responder or other essential worker and you contracted the coronavirus, we encourage you to call our office for legal help as soon as possible. We are prepared to review your claim at no cost to you. If we represent you, we can guide you throughout the complex workers’ compensation legal process to help you get the benefits you need.
Workers Disability Compensation Agency Emergency Rules
On March 30, 2020, the Michigan’s Workers’ Disability Compensation Agency – General Rules – Emergency Rules were signed into state law and are effective through September 30, 2020.
These Emergency Rules include the provision that if a first responder becomes ill with the COVID-19 virus, it is presumed that it arose out of and in the course of employment. This presumptive clause means that, as a first responder, you do not have to first prove that injury or illness caused by the virus is work-related. It is assumed under state law.
An employer or insurance carrier who denies a workers’ compensation claim to a first responder, without proof that the worker contracted it outside of work, commits a violation of the workers’ disability compensation act of 1969. Offenders of this violation may be subject to penalties under the law.
Who Qualifies as a First Responder In Michigan?
There are many workers who are considered essential for keeping things going during the pandemic that will not qualify as a first responder. According to Michigan’s Emergency Rules, a first responder specifically includes:
- Police officers
- Volunteer civil defense workers
- Correction officers
- Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)
- Nursing staff
- Respiratory therapists
- Other health care or medical professionals
- Nursing home caregivers
- And more
If you were infected with COVID-19, but you are not sure whether you may qualify as a first responder under Michigan state law, you can contact our office to arrange for a consultation with one of our Grand Rapids Michigan workers’ compensation lawyers. We welcome the opportunity to review your case and see how we may be able to help you to obtain benefits.
How Do You Pursue a Workers’ Comp Claim Due to COVID-19?
Workers who have a confirmed case of COVID-19 may file for workers’ compensation benefits providing that:
- Your job directly caused you to contract the virus (only non-first responders must prove this)
- Your employer required you to be quarantined due to suspected exposure to COVID-19
- You tested positively for COVID-19
- You received a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 from your doctor
After receiving confirmation that you have the COVID-19 virus, you must notify your employer immediately. If your employer refused to file a workers’ compensation claim for you, you may file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits on your own, by using the state’s Employee’s Report of Claim (form WC-117).
Can Essential Workers Qualify For Workers’ Comp Due to COVID-19?
Essential workers with an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 on the job may also be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, unlike first responders, these workers must be able to establish, as with any standard workers’ compensation claim, that the injury or illness arose out of the course of their employment.
The presumption clause does not apply to essential workers who are not classified as a first responder under Michigan’s emergency rules, such as:
- Grocery store clerks and cashiers
- Transportation, warehouse and delivery workers
- Food and restaurant staff
- Agricultural workers
If you are an essential worker and contracted COVID-19, you may benefit from the legal advice of a licensed attorney.
An Attorney May Benefit Your Michigan Workers’ Comp Claim
Whether you are a first responder or other essential worker, obtaining workers’ compensation benefits in Michigan due to COVID-19 can be a complicated legal process. Our attorneys at Jay Trucks & Associates have been helping injured workers for more than 30 years, and we have a proven track record of helping our clients obtain the workers’ compensation benefits they need.
Contact our firm anytime, day or night. You can speak with one of our representatives and schedule your FREE initial legal consultation to discuss your potential case, including how we may be able to help you get benefits. If we take your case, there are no upfront costs. In fact, we charge you nothing for our services unless we first obtain compensation for you.
Legal help for workers' comp claims: (800) 762-8623