Missouri lawmakers did the right thing. First line workers are now entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they contract COVID-19.
If you read our blog posts earlier this year, you’ll remember that traditional workers’ compensation law requires employees to be injured on the job or exposed to occupational disease in the course and scope of employment to qualify for benefits. Occupational diseases (like carpal tunnel, inhalation injuries and other latent-onset diseases) can be difficult to prove in workers’ compensation claims.
With the current COVID-19 crisis, essential workers risk being exposed to the dangerous virus at work. Recently, Governor Mike Parson set up an emergency rule to protect front line workers who contract or are exposed to COVID-19.
New Missouri Workers’ Comp Rule Supports First Responders
Missouri lawmakers enacted 8 CSR 50-5.005, entitled “Presumption of Occupational Disease for First Responders,” to ease access to workers’ compensation for some essential workers. This law creates a legal presumption that the virus was contracted at work and will be in effect from April 22, 2020 through February 1, 2021.
Though the regulation currently only covers law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMTs, there is a push to expand the coverage to include doctors, nurses, home health care workers, grocery store employees and other essential workers.
This rule will allow those affected by COVID-19 to have their medical bills covered and time off paid, as well as compensation for any resulting disability like lung damage.
You can read the full language of the statute on the Missouri Department of Labor’s website.
Are you or someone you know working as a first responder during the COVID-19 Crisis? Call the attorneys at Marler Law Partners today if you think you have a Workers’ Compensation claim related to your work during the stay-at-home orders.