The Miami Herald reports that Miami-Dade county has 110,352 confirmed coronavirus cases, with over 3,000 new cases being reported in a single day. Every day, we hear confirmation of more cases and more deaths. Those who are on the front lines are medical workers, first responders, and essential workers keeping grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential services up and running. While the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation notes that first responders, health care workers, and other individuals who contract COVID-19 on the job should be protected under Florida workers’ compensation, proving that a worker has contracted COVID-19 on the job can be a challenge. According to the Daily Business Review, workers who are protected in theory may face challenges when they apply for workers’ compensation in practice. As it stands, workers who contract COVID-19 on the job face the burden of proving with “clear and convincing evidence” that they contracted the virus at work. They must also show that they contracted the illness from conditions arising from their workplace, conditions that put them at greater risk of contracting the coronavirus. This is a high burden to be placing upon workers who are putting themselves on the front lines day in and day out to keep our city running and healthy.
Most workers who can work from home are at an advantage when it comes to protecting their families from the ravages of the coronavirus. Those who work in food service, grocery stores, pharmacies, doctor’s offices, hospitals, transportation, government, waste management, and other essential industries don’t often have the option of working from home. These workers put themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis and should be protected should they fall ill. Workers’ compensation can cover a worker’s medical bills, prescription drug costs, and pay for lost wages if the worker misses days from work as a result of sickness or injury resulting from the job.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published lists of some examples of situations where contracting the virus might be considered work-related. For example, if a person works in a field or job where they must have regular contact with the public and there is community spread of COVID-19, then it is likely that the person will have contracted COVID-19 on the job. If a person works from home or is the only case in the workplace, it isn’t likely that COVID-19 transmission might be workplace related.
What can you do if your workers’ compensation claim has been denied and you believe you contracted COVID-19 on the job? It might be possible to appeal your denied claim. Mario Trespalacios, P.A. is a workers’ compensation law firm in Miami, Florida that may be able to help you appeal a denied workers’ compensation claim.
Can Grocery Store Workers File for COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation in Miami, Florida?
According to the Daily Business Review, grocery store workers may be able to file for workers’ compensation under Florida’s workers’ compensation law. Under OSHA’s definition of what might qualify for occupational disease, workers who have regular contact with the public, during a time of high community transmission may be able to claim that they contracted the virus on the job because they are more exposed to the virus than someone at home or someone who can work from home. However, grocery store workers may have a harder time getting workers’ compensation to cover them, than say, a frontline health care worker. While memoranda at the state level makes it clear that frontline health care workers should be covered, other workers like grocery workers, remain in limbo and often face the burden of proving they got sick on the job themselves.
This should not be the case. All essential workers should be covered by workers’ compensation at this time. Any worker who has to interact with the general public at this time of high contagion is putting themselves and their families at risk and the least the OSHA can do is ensure that all frontline and essential workers are covered if they get sick. According to the Daily Business Review, lawyers and other advocates are fighting to make sure frontline workers are covered. If you have fallen sick and work in an essential job, like at a grocery store, or in transportation, and have questions about your right to make a workers’ compensation claim, reach out to Mario Trespalacios, P.A., a workers’ compensation law firm in Miami, Florida today. Our workers’ compensation attorney can work with you to help you appeal a denied claim and get the maximum possible settlement permitted under the law. If you get sick on the job, report the illness to your employer and ask that a workers’ compensation claim be filed. If your claim is denied, reach out to Mario Trespalacios, P.A. today.