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What to Know: COVID-19 and Workers’ Compensation

More than a half-million people in South Carolina have been infected with COVID-19. Many of these cases involve essential and frontline workers. That’s led many people to ask, “What do I need to know about COVID-19 and Workers’ Compensation to get my benefits?”

There are specific circumstances under which you can use Workers’ Compensation for COVID-19. This article will look at those circumstances and explain what Workers’ Compensation covers for workers in South Carolina.

Read on and learn how you can file a Worker’s Comp claim for COVID-19.

Who Can Claim Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

The Workers’ Compensation laws in South Carolina require a company with four or more regular or full-time employees to provide Workers’ Compensation insurance.

Workers’ Compensation does not cover some categories of employees. But Workers’ Compensation covers most frontline workers and essential employees.

If you are unsure if Worker’s Compensation Insurance covers you, consult your company’s hiring manager or talk with an attorney specializing in Worker’s Compensation cases

Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Illness and Disease?

Workers’ Compensation benefits may cover you if you have an illness or disease. In South Carolina, you must contract a disease or illness while you are doing your job or workplace hazards cause you to become sick.

Illnesses like the common cold or seasonal flu are not covered.

Check with your hiring manager or a lawyer about diseases that Workers’ Compensation covers.

Is Workers’ Compensation Available for COVID-19?

If you have COVID-19 and you caught the virus while at work, you may be able to file a Workers’ Compensation claim. South Carolina law does have provisions for this, but it’s important to discuss this unique situation with a lawyer.

Most employees will have to show evidence their exposure to COVID-19 was higher at their job than in other aspects of their daily lives.

Frontline workers and essential employees may be more likely to contract the virus because of the nature of their work. An experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney can help you determine if your COVID-19 illness is work-related. 

What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?

If you are injured or become sick because of an accident or conditions in your employment, you can apply for Workers’ Compensation benefits. In South Carolina, those benefits pay for medical expenses and salary payments for lost time at work.

Workers’ Compensation may cover extended medical treatments, physical therapy, and job retraining. If you experience a permanent injury, Workers’ Compensation pays permanent disability benefits, as well.

How Do I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Whether you are filing a claim for a physical injury or Workers’ Compensation for COVID-19, the steps are the same.

You must notify your employer right away if you believe you contracted COVID-19 at work. South Carolina law states you must file a claim within 90 days.

If you don’t submit your claim within 90 days, you could lose some or all your Workers’ Compensation benefits. Don’t let waiting cost you the benefits you deserve.

Once you file a claim, your employer has ten days to report the accident. The Workers’ Compensation Commission will begin monitoring your claim at this point.

If your employer doesn’t report your accident or doesn’t believe the injury is work-related, you can request a hearing to review your case.

What About Essential Workers?

The coronavirus pandemic has been especially difficult for essential employees. Frontline workers and first responders work in conditions where COVID-19 is rampant. Food workers are essential because they provide critical services to the community.

Here is a list of essential employee types in South Carolina:

  • Healthcare employees
  • First responders
  • Food and agriculture workers
  • Energy employees
  • People who work in water and sanitation
  • Transportation and logistics employees
  • Public workers
  • People who work in manufacturing facilities
  • Communications and IT staff
  • Critical government employees
  • Financial services professionals
  • People who manage hazardous materials
  • Defense workers
  • Chemical management employees
  • Law enforcement officers

Because these workers are essential, they must report to work despite the coronavirus pandemic. Because of the nature of their work and contact with other people, they could be at greater risk of developing COVID-19-related illnesses.

If you are one of these employees and contracted the coronavirus, Workers’ Compensation benefits might be available.

What Legal Options Do I Have with COVID-19 and Workers’ Compensation?

The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission is reviewing Worker’s Compensation cases related to COVID-19. This is still new territory, but claims continue to be filed.

Early Workers’ Compensation rulings will be important as more coronavirus claims emerge. If you believe you were infected by COVID-19 on the job, you must file a Worker’s Compensation claim.

A law in South Carolina may exempt many employers from lawsuits related to employees who catch COVID-19 while on the job. But you might be eligible for other forms of compensation.

Some employers may fail to provide proper sanitation or protective gear. If so, they might be financially responsible for your illness. 

Also, if the course of your work caused you to be exposed to coronavirus, there might be legal action you can take to recover money for medical treatments, pain and suffering, or other personal losses.

Talking with an experienced attorney is essential to determine if you are eligible for financial compensation with COVID-19 and Workers’ Compensation.

Know Your Rights

There have been more than a half-million COVID-19 cases in South Carolina. And there are hundreds of thousands of essential workers. Many people have questions about Worker’s Comp and COVID-19.

South Carolina companies with four or more employees must provide worker’s compensation insurance. It’s intended to cover the medical costs associated with an injury that happens on the job.

Workers’ Compensation also covers some workplace-related illnesses and diseases.

Suppose you are an essential employee who contracted the virus while at work. You may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits. The coronavirus is still new to Workers’ Compensation cases, so it’s essential to discuss your claim with an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney.

To protect your rights, consult Burriss and Ridgeway.

We can review your Workers’ Compensation case, discuss your rights in South Carolina, and help you determine the right course of action. 


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