COVID-19 Relief Impacting Workers’ Comp for First Responders
If you contract COVID-19 at work, contact an attorney to learn more about the benefits to which you may be entitled.
The idea of contracting the novel coronavirus is terrifying, yet a reality that many workers on the frontlines, including first responders, have to contend with right now. During the time of coronavirus, many states, local governments, private businesses, and the federal government at large have implemented actions designed to protect workers. Unfortunately, though, these actions may not always have the impact that policymakers anticipate.
Take, for example, the state COVID-19 relief package adopted by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers in mid-April: the relief package requires that first responders who contract COVID-19 must provide proof of when they got it in order to access benefits. Not only is this a near-impossible requirement of workers, but it may also undermine workers’ ability to seek workers’ compensation benefits.
High Burden Placed on First Responders Who Contract COVID-19
Per the legislation, first responders, such as police officers, who contract the coronavirus would be required to prove from which call the disease was contracted – i.e. who exposed them to the virus in the field. This places a nearly impossible burden to satisfy on the shoulders of such responders. For example, it is possible that a first responder could interact with someone who is exhibiting no symptoms, but who is contagious. The executive director of the Wisconsin EMT association explains that these first responders are no different than doctors, nurses, and other frontline folks, and that “law enforcement and EMS shouldn’t be subject to extraordinary measures.”
Weakening the Purpose of Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation insurance is a critical line of defense for workers who are injured on the job or contract an illness as a result of work-related activities. This is even more true for firefighters, police officers, and other first responders, who need to be physically and mentally well in order to perform their jobs well. If workers are unable to receive benefits because they are unable to prove from whom they contracted COVID-19, they may be disincentivized to take time off, resulting in them placing others at risk of infection. They will also not be able to receive the benefits that they need while they recover.
Hopefully, the legislation in Wisconsin will be reconsidered. The governor has stated that it is a good start, but that more needs to be done. Protection of workers during this time is essential.
Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Want to Help
At the law office of the Rooth Law Firm, P.A., our workers’ compensation attorneys are passionate about making sure that workers of all types have the protections that they need should they suffer harm as a result of their jobs. We want to make sure that if you contract coronavirus, you have the protections in place that you need to be able to take time off, recover, and receive wage replacement benefits.
If you have questions about workers’ compensation and the benefits to which you are entitled if you contract the coronavirus, please call our law firm today to request a free consultation.