In March of 2020, the director of L&I indicated there would be additional coverage for first responders who get COVID – 19 . The additional coronavirus coverage is for quarantined health care workers and first responder’s only. And then only while they are in quarantine by a public health official or physician. This is very narrow coverage. Said another way, this new rule does almost nothing. All the old rules are still in affect.
L&I claims are either an injury or an occupational disease. Covid-19 is an occupational disease and as such the usual difficult proof requirements of occupational disease law still apply to all workers.
Yes, under certain circumstances. For example, claims from health care providers and first responders involving COVID-19 will likely be allowed. Other claims from occupations that meet certain criteria for exposure will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The line between occupational disease allowance and denial is not bright. It will be interesting to see L&I’s response to these claims. It may be that if you are required to work with the public your claim will be looked upon more favorably than if you work in a closed office or from home. Time will tell. Meanwhile file your claim if you have one, and protest a denial if that happens.
In many cases, exposure and/or contraction of COVID-19 is not considered to be an allowable, work-related condition.
When the contraction of COVID-19 is incidental to the workplace or common to all employment (such as an office worker who contracts the condition from a fellow employee), a claim for exposure to and contraction of the disease will be denied.
See the news release from Governor Jay Inslee from March 5, 2020: Workers’ Compensation Coverage and COVID-19: Department Policy
If your Covid-19 claim is allowed you cannot sue your employer. He has immunity under RCW 51.24.020. The usual exception to this would be intentional injury.
If your Covid-19 claim is disallowed because it is not an occupational disease, then maybe you can sue your employer. Talk to a lawyer about this.
Yes. Get legal advice about how to proceed.
Center for Disease Control – www.cdc.gov
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – www.flu.gov
OSHA – www.osha.gov
The World Health Organization – www.who.int
Family Medical Leave – FMLA
Telephone – Call for information or a free strategy session – 206-343-1988