With nearly 7.5 million cases of COVID-19 in the U.S, it’s no doubt the pandemic has reshaped society in many ways. The amount of negligence that continues to arise due to the virus has caused even more people to contract Covid-19 and either experience long-lasting symptoms or worse, they pass away.
As we continue adjusting to the norms of the pandemic, an increasing number of personal injury lawsuits are being filed against companies throughout the country. For example, many employees and customers are seeking recovery for financial and emotional damages caused by the drastic effects of COVID-19.
If you recently contracted the virus at work, you may be wondering whether or not you speak with a personal injury lawyer. In the following article, we will go over some of the most common questions involving COVID-19 personal injury lawsuits in the workplace.
1. What should I do if I was infected at work?
For people who are infected with COVID-19 at work, your best option to recover any damages is to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney right away. Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance provided by companies to cover employees who suffer any work-related injuries or illness on the job.
A workers’ compensation lawyer will help you determine whether your sickness arose during the course of employment and how to retrieve fair compensation for medical bills, lost wages or emotional distress you endured due to the virus.
2. How long do I have to file a COVID-19 personal injury lawsuits against an employer?
Like most personal injury lawsuits, states require civil tort claims to be filed two years after an injury. For injuries or deaths that occurred early in the pandemic, the statute of limitations will not expire until March of 2022.
3. If I file a lawsuit for a workplace transmission of COVID-19, will workers’ compensation exclusivity apply?
To put it simply, it depends on the state your job is in. State laws vary greatly when it comes to determining whether illness or death from COVID-19 is exclusively covered by workers’ compensation programs in your state. Several states, such as California, have adopted a rebuttable presumption that certain employees who test positive for COVID-19 contracted the virus at work for workers’ compensation purposes.
However, most states have not adopted a reputable assumption and instead can deny claims suggesting employees contracted the virus outside of the workplace. Although, many states are starting to recognize an exception to workers’ compensation exclusivity in instances where negligence or intentional harm is inherent. These instances include:
-Employees were denied access to proper protection equipment
-Employees were given false information about the safety of the workplace and the likelihood of contracting the virus
4. Can my employer receive tort immunity if they follow mitigation guidelines?
While most state laws vary depending on the type of business involved, several states have passed laws limiting tort liability for in-state business. However, the laws pertaining to the extent at which tort immunity applies greatly depends on whether the business followed local health department guidelines as well as if gross negligence or intentional torts are involved. Many COVID-19 complaints contain allegations of intentional wrongdoing on behalf of the defendant businesses.