Coronavirus, also known as, COVID-19, is a novel respiratory pandemic that is infecting people around the world. As there is no vaccine as yet for Coronavirus, it thus is extremely dangerous. The best way so far as determined by the World Health Organization is to take precautions such as stay at home, social distance, and hand wash frequently.
While many people are taking these precautionary measures seriously, for the working class staying at home is perhaps not a practical option. This applies especially to those who can’t bring work to their homes and thus must go to work.
The number of COVID-19 infected people and deaths has truly crippled the country’s economy, including the states of North Carolina and South Carolina. The increase in the death toll due to Coronavirus daily has raised concerns among workers across industries and left them in confusion, and South Carolina is no different. According to the latest statistics, the confirmed cases for COVID-19 in South Carolina totaled 5,253.
However, the COVID-19 related death toll in the state so far is 166. The highest numbers of new cases that have been reported recently in South Carolina include the following counties:
If you are still going to work or can’t go to work because you have contracted COVID-19, then this post is a must-read as we answer some of the most crucial questions on and about workers’ compensation in South Carolina. It may help to clear ambiguities about workers’ compensation in South Carolina pertaining to COVID-19. Take a look:
How does South Carolina’s workers’ compensation work?
Workers’ compensation in South Carolina offers benefits available to most workers who either have on-the-job exposure or are injured at work. Injured or exposed employees receive both medical treatment and 2/3 of the lost wages as compensation.
Is Coronavirus a work-related disease or injury if contracted at work?
Nobody can be 100 percent sure if the infectious disease was a result of occupational exposure. But needless to say, as per the South Carolina law, an occupational disease is compensable if it resulted from working conditions. However, you need to show the link between your health condition and exposure at work in order to qualify for medical treatment, compensation, and benefits under the state’s law.
Since the law clearly states the injury or disease needs to be in the scope of employment, it appears that the South Carolina State Legislature didn’t intend for community diseases like colds, flu, and potentially COVID-19 to be deemed work-related or compensable under the SC Workers’ Compensation Act. Moreover, it is also hard to pursue a workers’ compensation claim for a disease like COVID-19 contracted on the job as you may also have contracted it in the general public.
Therefore, it is important to work with an experienced lawyer in South Carolina who can help pursue and prove your workers’ compensation claim.
How can I report my exposure and illness from COVID-19 because of work?
Once you know that you are infected and you think it is because of your occupation, then immediately report to your employer or supervisor without any delay. Although by law you have 90 days to report your illness, it is advisable that you act fast.
Once reported, the next step is to file a written claim for benefits through the SC workers’ compensation insurance company. If you file a claim form, then the insurance company of your employer will respond to whether your claim will be denied or accepted.
If the insurance company rejects your claim or limits your benefits, we are here to help. We at the Law Office of Jason E. Taylor will fight for your case and strive to help you get fully compensated so that you can cope with your condition.
If a healthcare worker contracts COVID-19, will they be covered in South Carolina?
If you contract COVID-19 at work as a healthcare worker, your employer’s insurance company is likely to agree that you were exposed to the risk at work and that there is a link between the contraction of the disease and your employment. If the insurance company agrees that your claim is covered then you should be entitled to medical care at no cost to you. If you’re unable to go to work because of COVID-19 for more than a week, then you should also be entitled to weekly compensation. This represents 2/3 of your weekly wage for income lost.
Do I have to document my working conditions?
Yes. You should document the working conditions that increased the risk of you contracting Coronavirus. You will need to prove how your working condition exposed you to the disease.
If you’re exposed to Coronavirus at work:
- Keep a calendar of events or a diary
- Record email and voice messages that you received about the exposure
- Keep your test result copies intact
- Just like with all job injuries, report your exposure to the supervisor and to the individual who is designated to report claims for workers’ compensation.
Seek Legal Consultation from us Today
Since the current situation pertaining to COVID-19 and the impact it has on South Carolina’s workers’ compensation is confusing for many people, it is advisable to seek legal help if you have contracted COVID-19. Contact an attorney in our office to discuss your situation and how it occurred. We can advise regarding the right course of legal action and fight for you to be compensated fairly if you were infected at work or in the course of your employment.