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Workers’ Compensation and The Coronavirus

April 3, 2020

Many Aiken residents remain at home in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, but there are still some who are required to go out in public as a part of their jobs. Businesses who provide “essential services” are allowed to be open during this difficult time. For workers on the job, protecting themselves against COVID-19 is a constant concern, as is the fear of what might happen if they get it. A common question concerns eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. If you are an essential worker, it is important to be aware of your rights in this situation.

 

Those Included Among “Essential Workers” In Aiken County

 

On March 31, 2020, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster held a press conference where he issued a sweeping order requiring all non-essential businesses to close as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It includes a variety of service providers in addition to schools, public parks, and beach access points along the coast. However, there are still plenty of workers providing services considered essential, who are required to remain on the job. These include:

 

  • Medical providers and hospital employees

  • Police, firefighters, EMTs, and other first responders

  • Grocery stores and pharmacies

  • Banks

  • Gas stations

  • Restaurants who are limited to drive through and takeout orders

 

For the above workers, there are serious concerns about how to protect their health and safety. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is scarce, and there are still many people not adhering to social distancing guidelines. In addition to their worry about how to protect themselves on the job, they are concerned about what would happen if they do become sick.

 

Are You Entitled To Workers’ Compensation If You Get Sick On The Job?

 

For employees who are injured or become sick on the job, the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) provides important benefits. These provide medical care, wage reimbursement during time off, and compensation in the event of permanent disabilities. Unfortunately, these benefits may not apply in cases involving the coronavirus. One of the biggest issues is narrowing down exactly how the employee contracted the disease.

 

Workers’ compensation applies only to those injuries suffered on the job. While dealing with the general public undoubtedly increases your risks, workers’ compensation insurers may attempt to deny your claim on the basis that you became infected at home or through some other means. To protect your rights to benefits in the event you do contract the coronavirus, it is important to take the following steps:

 

  • Practice social distancing from family and friends during your off hours

  • Document the precautions you are taking at home, such as cleaning and frequent handwashing

  • Document specific incidents and general circumstances on the job that put you at risk

  • Report symptoms of COVID-19 immediately to your employer

 

Reach Out To Our Aiken Workers’ Compensation Attorney

 

During this difficult time, the Surasky Law Firm, LLC remains on the job and can help to defend your rights to workers’ compensation benefits during the outbreak of the coronavirus. To discuss your case, contact our Aiken workers’ compensation attorney today.

 

 

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