The Coronavirus and NC Workers' Compensation Laws
Certain jobs and professions are subject to exposure to occupational diseases, including the recent Coronavirus and the associated Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome SARS-CoV-2.
Coverage for compensation due to contracting the COVID-18 disease may be available under the North Carolina Work Comp laws, subject to meeting certain conditions related to unique aspects of your occupation or employment.Workers’ Comp, NC: Occupational Diseases
North Carolina General Statute 97-53 defines occupational diseases and exposure to chemicals.
As to occupational diseases, the employee must demonstrate the condition or illness is peculiar to a particular profession, employment, or trade.
Diseases deemed to be “ordinary” and otherwise subject to contraction by the general public in equal measure, may have coverage issues and therefore might be denied by the employer and/or their insurance carrier.
A Schedule of Diseases is provided under the Act.
Coverage as an occupational disease may also be accepted under the General Definition of occupational diseases in North Carolina, irrespective of the fact that the illness or injury may otherwise qualify as an injury by accident.
Under the NC workers’ compensation law, diseases with a recognizable link between the nature and type of the job and the increased risk of contracting a disease are recognized as Occupational Diseases.Heightened Level of Exposure to Disease
If the employee or professional is subject to a greater risk of contracting the COVID-19 disease than the general public or other employees, it may be deemed “compensable”, however, infection cases are complicated and difficult to win.
The COVID-19 disease, given it has reached pandemic proportions in the United States and North Carolina, may be contracted by the general public.
Certain professions, including doctors, nurses, emergency room staff, EMT Emergency Medical Technicians, and other medical service providers working with infected patients, may be deemed at greater risk of infection by the Coronavirus due to the repeated, if not almost constant exposure to patients with the COVID-19 disease.
As is the case with any occupational disease where Workers’ Compensation is sought, the employee must provide proof of the “causal connection” between the occupation and the disease or unique susceptibility due to the peculiarity of the type of professional duties.
Evidence may be presented using circumstantial evidence, and may include consideration of the nature and extent of exposure to disease-causing agents or specific diseases, as well as the absence of the disease prior to an exposure at work.What is Required for Coverage?
In order for an accident to “compensable” under the Workers’ Compensation Act (sometimes referred to in the past as workman’s or workmen’s compensation), a death, injury, or loss must be attributable to employment.
The official language requires in an injury “arising out of and in the course of employment.”
In the alternative, the claimant may seek to prove injury or death due to an occupational disease.
While some exposures may occur during a discernable event, contraction of a disease may not be the result of a known “accident,” given no specific incident or event may be possible to prove.
For a disease such as COVID-19 to be covered under the Workers’ Comp Laws, the North Carolina Industrial Commission may consider whether the occupational disease is due to conditions and causes that are characteristic and peculiar to a particular type of employment or trade, rather than an “ordinary disease of life” that the general public is equally exposed outside employment.Workmans Comp NC – Topics of Interest
- Can I get Workers’ Compensation for the Coronavirus?
- Booker v. Duke Medical – Occupational Diseases
- How much is my Workers’ Compensation claim worth?
- What happens if I was hurt as part of employment?
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another person or suffered an on the job injury, we may be able to help.
Kevin Jones is an experienced attorney, dedicated to providing focused legal representation to Plaintiffs who have been injured in New Bern, Beaufort, Greenville NC, and Jacksonville, North Carolina.
"We never represent the employer or the insurance company. We look out for the employee and the injured party."
- Kevin Jones, New Bern Work Comp Lawyer
Call today to schedule your complementary consultation with Kevin Jones: 877-622-6671
You may also email Kevin directly at: Kevin@DodgeJones.com