Back in April, the Minnesota Legislature passed a change to the state’s workers’ compensation law that could affect you, if you are a front-line worker battling the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s something that at least 1,500 sickened nurses, doctors, firefighters and other essential employees have taken advantage of so far.
Under state law, as a laborer making a workers’ comp claim, the burden is on you to prove that your injury or illness is related to your job. But with COVID-19 being so widespread across Minnesota right now, it would be very difficult to prove exactly where you caught the disease — especially while you are in the hospital or quarantined at home, recovering.
So the Legislature made an exception. Minnesotans who work in front-line jobs who file for workers’ compensation for COVID-19 are now presumed to have contracted the disease on the job. If their employer or the company’s workers’ comp insurance provider object, they must present evidence that the worker got the illness outside of their work duties.
Hundreds of front-line workers have filed claims
As of July 10, 1,567 front-line workers have applied for workers’ compensation under this new rule. The vast majority of those claims came from health care workers. These men and women likely worked in clinics and hospitals where people with COVID-19 are getting treatment. Despite precautions, things like the virus’ highly contagious nature and problems obtaining enough personal protective equipment (PPE) put these workers at risk.
As we all know, COVID-19 is a potentially fatal illness. Though the vast majority of working-age people who contract it survive, it can take weeks to recover, and the long-term effects are still unknown. Health care workers must be especially careful about waiting to return to work until they are healthy and no longer contagious.
Help with the challenges of Minnesota’s workers’ comp system
The rule change may make workers’ compensation claims easier for front-line workers who have come down with COVID-19. For the rest of the workers in the Twin Cities, getting approved for sufficient benefits to help cover your medical bills and other expenses can be a challenge. The best way to give yourself a fair chance at getting approved on appeal is to retain an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
At Atkinson Gerber Law Office, we’ve represented multiple front-line workers exposed to the novel coronavirus attain the benefits they need and deserve.