Many people have workers’ compensation questions related to the COVID-19 coronavirus. We thought it would be helpful to answer some of the most common questions we have had.
Each state has different workers’ compensation laws. Some states have specifically developed rules for coverage of the COVID-19 coronavirus under workers’ compensation. Georgia has not developed rules for that. But, you may still be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits if you develop coronavirus because of exposure at work. An attorney may successfully argue on your behalf that your exposure to coronavirus at work qualifies as an occupational injury or occupational disease under Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act.
Unfortunately, many people have been laid off from their jobs as businesses have closed down during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. What happens when you get laid off depends primarily on two different things:
- Had you returned to work before being laid off or were you currently receiving workers’ compensation wage loss benefits?
- Were you laid off because of your workers’ compensation injury or for some other reason?
The workers’ compensation insurance company may try to tell you that you do not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits and that you should file for unemployment. But, the specific facts of your case should determine whether the insurance company should pay you workers’ compensation benefits. Even if the insurance company refuses to pay, you can get an attorney and take them to court to try to get benefits.
Getting medical treatment has been difficult as a result of COVID-19. Many medical providers have continued conducting office visits via telemedicine videoconfencing tools, but surgeries and other procedures have been put off. Workers’ compensation should cover treatment by telemedicine if you need it.
If you are on light duty restrictions, your employer may try to offer you a light duty job that is suitable to your work restrictions. Light duty job offers now come with a new issue if the position to which you will be returning brings with it a risk of exposure to coronavirus. Georgia’s workers’ compensation law has special rules that govern light duty job offers. Refusing a light duty job which is appropriately offered by your employer or their insurance company could jeopardize your right to get workers’ compensation benefits. If you are confronted with this situation, it would be best to speak with an attorney before you decide whether to refuse the job or not.
Yes. Workers’ compensation courts in Georgia have been delayed. Hearings which were scheduled have been postponed. This has been difficult on many people who were hurt at work because going to court is a way to get benefits paid when an employer or insurance company refuses to do what it should. Courts are starting to reopen, but the ability to have in person hearings will certainly depend on whether coronavirus cases decrease or increase.