Employers conducting work in the State of Florida are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Generally, if the employer has 4 or more employees they must have workers compensation insurance.
Generally, workers' compensation covers, on the job illnesses, often referred to as Occupational Diseases, that arise out of and are causally related to on the job activity. Illnesses such as "pink eye" have been deemed occupational diseases and thus compensable under the Workers Compensation law. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation issued an informal memorandum on April 6, 2020, stating that healthcare workers that contract COVID-19 as a result of work-related exposure are eligible for workers' compensation benefits under Florida Statute Section 440.151.
The primary issue the health care field faces concerning COVID-19 workers' compensation claims, is proving or challenging whether the worker contracted COVID-19 as a result of work-related activity. A worker must show clear and convincing medical evidence that they contracted COVID-19 within the course and scope of their employment.
Health care workers who contract COVID-19 will likely be presumed by the Court to have contracted the disease due to their employment.
For employers, this presumption is likely rebuttable. If an employer can show that the employee contracted COVID-19 from some other source, the employer may be able to defend against a workers' compensation claim successfully.
Best practice for employers in the health care field is to keep good records of any incidents within the facility. Proper COVID-19 documentation will allow for more effective identification of COVID-19 exposure within a facility. Employers are also encouraged to check the status of their insurance coverage, communicate with workers, and have a general awareness of their work environment.
If you have questions regarding COVID-19 related workers' compensation claims, please contact an experienced attorney familiar with healthcare workers' compensation claims. Jeffrey S. Howell P.A. Attorneys at Law has experienced attorneys that can assist you through this unprecedented time. Please contact any of our four (4) offices if you have any questions.