We are now more than a year into the coronavirus pandemic. Little did we know last year at this time how all of our lives would be severely impacted. Our thoughts go out to anyone who has lost someone due to the virus. Nationally, while COVID-19 cases have been on the decline or leveling off in recent weeks, the virus is by no means done with us. Our Baltimore personal injury law firm continues to see clients whose lives have been turned upside by this deadly virus.
If you believe you were exposed to COVID-19 at work and became ill, you might assume you’d be covered by Maryland Workers’ Compensation — as is the case with other workplace illnesses and injuries. Unfortunately, COVID-19 work comp cases are far more complicated that you might think.
Maryland residents including frontline workers in the medical field, first responders such as police officers, fire fighters, and EMTs, and essential workers such as grocery store clerks, warehouse workers and delivery drivers — all of these hard-working citizens put themselves at risk of contracting the coronavirus, by virtue of their daily exposure to the public. However proving that you caught COVID-19 through your employment and qualifying for Work Comp in Maryland can be a difficult thing, if you don’t have an experienced attorney.
Three things you need to know if you think you’ve become ill with COVID-19 from work:
- Don’t Wait to Act on Your Claim: A common but understandable mistake we’ve seen people make is waiting weeks or months to consult a lawyer about their COVID-19 work comp claim. Some people wait to see if their disabilities or symptoms brought on by the virus are permanent. In the meantime, they’ve lost weeks of income and their hospital bills continue to pile up. Don’t wait to seek advice from an experienced Md. Work Comp lawyer, who can help get the claims process going and has a better chance of getting you the benefits you deserve.
- Consult an Experienced Maryland Injury Attorney: We urge anyone who thinks they may have become ill with COVID-19 from work to please consult an experienced Maryland Workers’ Compensation attorney. We’ve said it before and it’s worth repeating: Do not attempt to go it alone! The Maryland workers compensation claims process can be complicated enough without COVID-19 thrown into the mix. At the Law Offices of Butschky and Butschky, we are up to date on state clarifications on what is and what is not a COVID-related work comp case.
- Don’t Talk to Insurance Company Representatives!: And please – do not talk to any insurance representatives who may call you, as that may negatively affect your eligibility for Md. workers’ comp without your even realizing it. Whether or not you have a case depends on small details that the average lay person does not know about.
The first hurdle is you need to prove that you got ill from COVID-19 at work. If you didn’t get it at work, it’s not a Work Comp case. It’s possible you caught COVID at home, from a family member or roommate. About half of the cases can be lost right there. You need to be able to prove that you got it at work. That may be circumstantial, such as everybody on your floor or in your workspace contracted the coronavirus, or it can be job-related, such as you’re a nurse or a doctor. That is an easier type of case to prove.
The second hurdle is you need to prove disability caused by coronavirus. If you caught COVID-19 at work and you had no symptoms or just mild symptoms, you most likely won’t have a valid Workers’ Comp case. However, let’s say you work as a nurse in a hospital and you caught COVID-19, and you ended up hospitalized, on a ventilator, or contracted pneumonia — with long-term physical effects — then we have a case that is both circumstantial and shows causality.
We expect one million Maryland Workers’ Compensation claims to be filed related to COVID-19. Not all cases will be as dramatic as the example I described above. However, coronavirus has affected patients in many different ways, making so many people too sick to work and leaving them financially strapped.
As a side note, OSHA recently announced a new program to protect high-risk workers from coronavirus, with a focus on employers that retaliate against workers with safety concerns (see related link below).
Again, you do not have to figure this out by yourself! Please give us a call if you think you got sick from COVID-19 at work and want to talk with us about filing a Maryland Workers’ Compensation claim. Don’t put your health and your financial well-being on the back burner.
OSHA launches program to protect high-risk workers from coronavirus, focuses on employers that retaliate against workers with safety concerns
OSHA National News Release March 12, 2021
Maryland Workers’ Compensation homepage (links to COVID-19 info)