Indiana has enacted both work injury legislation with its worker’s compensation act and work disease legislation with its occupational disease act.
Both of these acts are a set of laws that work towards the same goal of providing an affected worker with prompt reasonable and necessary medical care when your job injures you or makes you sick. The acts also try to provide a safety net while that same injury or illness knocks you out of the work force by providing a temporary disability payment to replace your wages.
So why do people need lawyers when they get sick or hurt at work if the idea and purpose of the two acts is so simple? It’s because there is a catch. The catch is in order to qualify you have to prove you were hurt by something or made sick by something related to your job.
COVID-19 exposure is a very real and present danger for today’s essential workers. For example, our essential workers at the grocery stores who provide all of us access to foodstuffs and household supplies interact with hundreds of people on a daily basis.
There has been a push in some states, like Minnesota, to make it easier for workers who are exposed to COVID-19 to get benefits. Indiana has not passed any laws like this yet. Why is this important? What many people don’t realize is how difficult (not to mention potentially expensive) it is to prove where and when the virus entered your system.
While it may seem like common sense to conclude you got the virus while at work when working with hundreds of people an employer doesn’t have to agree with you. An employer or its insurance company is well within its rights to dispute your conclusion and try to cast doubt on how you contracted the virus. It may point to the fact that your spouse may have brought it home from her job or that your child brought it home from the grandparents. In many situations, family who comes down with the virus around the same time may not even know who was exposed first. Remember, the burden of proof is on the injured worker.
As the number of worker’s compensation claims rise in connection with COVID-19 so will the insurance companies’ efforts to deny or dispute claims. It is important to connect with legal counsel as soon as possible if you believe you or a loved one contracted COVID-19 through work and are now faced with lost wages and huge hospital bills, or worse, if someone you loved paid the ultimate price.
At Greene & Schultz, we can meet with you remotely face to face using internet technology or, if that is unavailable to you, by phone.