The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in significant changes to nearly every job and workplace. Avoiding exposure to the virus has been extremely difficult for front-line workers in healthcare, law enforcement, and firefighting jobs. To help support workers in these professions who experience disabilities due to the virus, Virginia’s legislature enacted laws that make it easier to apply for and receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, the benefits available under these statutes remain limited to those in specific professions.
The limited nature of the new laws can make it difficult to understand who is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for a COVID-19 claim in Virginia. Our experienced Hampton Roads workers’ compensation attorneys are here to help you better understand who is covered by the law and if you may have grounds for a claim.
In addition to injuries that happen on the job, workers’ compensation in Virginia also offers benefits for workers who are disabled or killed by certain “occupational diseases” that are presumed to be related to their job. Conditions covered under such a presumption do not require the worker to prove that the illness was contracted on the job in the same way as other injury-related claims.
Before the 2019 pandemic, such presumptions existed for certain workers who experienced disabilities due to diseases such as Hepatitis, HIV, and tuberculosis. In 2021, Virginia’s legislature expanded on those presumptions to include COVID-19. Workers covered under the statute include:
For workers in these jobs submitting COVID-19-related claims, a positive diagnosis and symptoms of COVID-19 requiring medical treatment are all that is required to establish the presumption. The disability or death must have been caused by an illness occurring on or after March 12, 2020, and before December 31, 2022.
There is one notable exemption to eligibility for benefits for a presumptive occupational disease. Under the statute, a worker who is offered a medically accepted vaccine, immunization, or similar preventative measure by their employer but refuses such treatment will not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for that occupational disease. This requirement can only be waived with a written statement from your physician that the vaccine or immunization would pose significant risks to your health.
The COVID-19 pandemic put our healthcare workers and first responders through a difficult, protracted period of stress and increased demand for services. For workers in these industries who were disabled or even killed by COVID-19 exposure in the workplace, financial help may be available to assist you and your family. If you believe you may have a claim under this statute, please contact our office to request a consultation and review the specifics of your case.
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Virginia workman’s comp lawyer Jan Hoen is prepared to fight to protect your legal rights. Contact Hampton Injury Law PLC as soon as possible after a work injury and allow attorney Jan Hoen to use his resources and experience to fight for you.
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