The novel coronavirus spreads quickly, but may not be detectable for up to 2 weeks. Given these facts, COVID-19 is extremely difficult to trace in most cases. However, certain occupations entail more exposure to the coronavirus than others. If you contracted COVID-19 while at work, you may be eligible for workers’ comp benefits. Below, our attorneys discuss what you need to know about coronavirus and workers’ compensation in New Jersey.
What Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Cover in New Jersey?
The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act grants compensation to injured or disabled employees who cannot return to work for a period of time. However, there are eligibility requirements that an injured employee must meet before receiving compensation. If a workplace accident injures an employee, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Additionally, employees who develop job-related medical conditions may also receive these benefits. Workers’ comp benefits can provide the following types of compensation:
- Medical Expenses – An employee may receive compensation to 100% cover their relevant and authorized medical expenses.
- Temporary Disability Benefits – If an injured worker cannot return to work for a period of 7 days or more, they may receive 70% of their lost average weekly wages.
- Permanent Disability Benefits – An employee with a partial permanent disability may receive compensation on a temporary basis. If an employee suffers severe injuries and cannot secure gainful employment, they may receive permanent total benefits.
- Death Benefits – The dependents of an employee who dies due to a workplace injury may receive compensation for their loss.
Can I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim If I Contract the Coronavirus?
It is possible to file a workers’ compensation claim for COVID-19 in New Jersey. However, it is important to note that securing this type of benefit requires proving that you contracted coronavirus at work. Since COVID-19 is a communicable disease and your symptoms may not begin to show for to 2 weeks, it is difficult to trace back to any one source. Thus, many coronavirus workers’ compensation claims are likely to fail.
However, some occupations put employees at more risk of contracting COVID-19. Healthcare workers in particular are more exposed to the coronavirus than other types of employees. As a result, healthcare workers have a better chance at proving their diagnosis is directly linked to their place of work.
There are other situations in which an employee might be able to secure coronavirus workers’ compensation benefits. Having worked closely with an employee or client with coronavirus may make your claim easier to prove. In this situation, you should speak to a workers’ comp lawyer to discuss the strength of your case.
What Other COVID-19 Protections are in Place for New Jersey Employees?
New Jersey has a robust set of programs in place to help employees in need. Some of these programs were recently expanded to account for the spread of COVID-19. These expansions applied to the following programs:
- New Jersey Earned Sick Leave – Eligible employees may accrue up to 40 hours, or 5 full days, worth of paid sick leave.
- New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits – Qualifying employees may apply for wage replacement benefits paid by the state.
At the same time, the federal CARES Act may cover New Jersey employees affected by the coronavirus. This act allows certain workers who contract coronavirus to receive paid sick leave for a given period of time.
Diagnosed With COVID-19? Our Workers’ Comp Lawyers in NJ Are Here to Help
If you believe you have a valid coronavirus workers’ compensation claim, contact our office today. We can discuss the details of your case in a free consultation.
In an effort to extend our services during this difficult time, we are taking clients from many of our surrounding areas. These areas include Vineland, Cherry Hill, Atlantic City, Cape May, Bridgeton, Millville and Voorhees Township. To learn more, give us a call at (856) 692-6500.