My name is Lawyer Thomas Durkin, and I handle Worker’s Compensation, Personal Injury, and Social Security Disability / SSI cases in Wisconsin. I am asked if COVID-19 can be considered an occupational injury for which benefits are payable in Wisconsin. The short answer is yes, but it depends on many factors. Many viruses, including the COVID-19 virus and infections, may be covered under Wisconsin workers compensation law.
The criteria for establishing COVID-19 as a work-related condition is that the employee must demonstrate that the injury or illness related to COVID-19 occurred while performing work activities and that the COVID-19 contraction arose out of the employee’s job.
The employee’s practitioner or physician must declare, with a reasonable degree of medical probability, that the employee has in fact contracted COVID-19 and was contracted during the course and scope of their employment, by opposition to contracting COVID-19 when he was not working. This can be done by the physician on a WKC-16-B report called “Practitioner’s Report on Accident or Occupational Illness in lieu of Testimony”. Mere exposure to a person with COVID-19 without contracting the disease is not a compensable work-related injury under Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation law.
The next question is what steps an employee should take if they think they have contracted COVID-19 while working. An employee should document as much as possible all contact with other people that could have led to infection, including specific dates, times and locations and potential sources of exposure in the workplace. Evidence that COVID-19 was not caused by any other probable source may also be important. It is also important to document what the employer did or did not do and whether the employer has been notified that other employees have contracted COVID-19. Has the employer taken measures to ensure the safety of employees, such as taking social distancing measures, washing hands, sanitizing hands, wearing a mask and all other safety precautions that have been or not taken by the employer. Notice to the employer and the employer’s failure to take adequate and appropriate safety measures can be of critical importance in a COVID-19 claim.
If an employee has contracted COVID-19 at work or any other accident at work as a result of professional activities and a doctor links it to the employee’s occupational exposure, then the employee may be entitled to payment of the medical expenses, the appeal for compensation for lost wages. temporary total disability, permanent disability called permanent partial disability, and potentially a claim for loss of earning capacity based on symptoms and lasting effects of COVID-19.
This article is not intended to provide legal advice, but for informational purposes only. If you have specific questions regarding COVID-19 workplace injuries, any other questions about work-related injuries, bodily injuries or Social Security disability / ssi, please contact me at Cabranes, Durkin and Longdin at (262) 638-0529. or [email protected]