A problem faced by many "essential workers" during the early months of the pandemic was that, by being exposed to so many people, these workers often contracted the coronavirus and developed COVID-19. Before vaccines were available, the results could be devastating and debilitating. As a result, filing a worker's compensation claim for contracting COVID-19 at work became common in many states.
Now that vaccines are available, the illnesses aren't always as dire (although anecdotally, there's still a large percentage who end up feeling like they just had the worst respiratory infection ever). And, many people are asymptomatic. But even asymptomatic people may go on to develop long COVID, and those who are ill and need to stay away from work often lose pay. As a result, filing worker's compensation claims for COVID-19 is still something you can do in some states.
First, Check Your State's Sick Leave Policy
Your state may have COVID-related sick leave that would cover your time being ill and render filing a claim moot. For example, California will have supplemental sick leave pay until December 2022. If you are looking at worker's compensation solely to make up for no pay, the supplemental pay may be all you need. If your state does not have a similar policy, then you need to consult a lawyer who deals with worker's compensation cases to ensure you fill out the application completely.
The Need for the Medical Examination for Your Claim
Regardless of what your employer wants (PCR test results, doctor's note, etc.), you most likely will have to have a medical examination for your claim. Don't despair at this; many offices now offer telemedicine appointments to get notes, and some states may allow a telemedicine appointment to suffice for worker's compensation, depending on state laws. However, never assume this —instead, ask your lawyer first. Even if your doctor is OK with a remote appointment, your state might not be.
Proving It Was Work-Related
This is another "it varies" issue as some states allow certain categories of workers to be presumed to have work-related COVID, rather than making them show that they most likely got it at work. Using California again as an example, people in certain professions who claim they caught COVID-19 at work are now presumed to have done so, and employers face a tough battle to contradict the claims.
But for people outside those professions or who live in states that don't presume a relation to work, proving that you caught the coronavirus at work may be difficult. You will need the guidance of a worker's compensation firm such as The Dennis Law Firm to ensure you get the best evidence possible.