Workers’ Compensation and the Weight of COVID-19

Businesses managing essential employees during COVID-19 are faced with a lot of risk exposure. It’s difficult to know when an employee becomes ill whether to immediately assume COVID-19 is the cause. Thus far, states and employers have been grappling with how to classify claims, so an employee is covered for their medical needs, while businesses are not buried by the steeply rising costs of premiums. There are some important things to consider about businesses having workers’ compensation coverage at this time.

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Ongoing Legislative Action

By all measures, it appears COVID-19 fallout will test our employment systems for some time. Coverage through workers compensation Maitland FL is a valuable tool for protecting employers whose employees are working in unprecedented conditions. However, there is much to be decided on how claim structures will work going forward. Initially, some states relaxed the standards for employees claiming benefits. This may become increasingly untenable if there are barrage of new claims. There is already legal pushback about how to determine which employees are most vulnerable. This will become increasingly difficult as states begin reopening and people are exposed to the virus in a number of new ways. Legislators, employers and insurance companies will be parsing numerous issues for the best way forward.

Deterring Civil Lawsuits

One possible bright spot for employers is the protection from civil lawsuits due to workers’ compensation benefits. In California, when an employee has received benefits, the employer is in most cases protected from negligence and wrongful death suits due to unsafe work practices. Consequently, employees would not receive benefits and civil damages. These determinations will be made state-by-state. This may be a small tradeoff though if workers’ compensation claims cause premiums to become unaffordable to many businesses.

Workers’ compensation plays an invaluable role in protecting businesses and employees. In the coming months, as states reopen and the burden of proof shifts on claims, more legislative actions and continued reassessments will take place throughout the country.

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