A recent Wall Street Journal report suggests that it may prove challenging to obtain successful outcomes in COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims.
While there has not yet been any comprehensive national data on the total number of COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims filed, accepted, denied, or paid out, several states have released information on payouts. The early evidence suggests that most of these claims have been relatively inexpensive for workers’ compensation insurance companies.
In some states, claims filed by public-sector employees are more likely to be accepted than those filed by private-sector workers. Data in Florida shows that state and local employees’ claims were denied only 22 percent of the time as opposed to the 56 percent denied from the private sector. Of those claims that have been approved in Florida, fewer than two percent have cost insurance carriers more than $10,000.00.
Unsurprisingly, states that do not have a presumption of COVID-19 eligibility for certain classes of employees tend to deny COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims at higher rates. In Texas, for example, approximately 45 percent of the more than 32,000 COVID-19 claims filed as of December 2020 have already been denied, according to the Texas Department of Insurance.
More surprising, however, is the fact that states that provide greater latitude for COVID-19 claimants seem to be offering significant pushback as well. The Wall Street Journal cites one Chicago attorney who has filed over thirty claims stemming from workplace coronavirus infections, including ten cases that resulted in death. These COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims have all been denied by insurance carriers; the attorney plans to challenge the denials in court.
In each case, insurers rejected the claims on the basis that it could not be proven that the coronavirus was contracted in the workplace – despite the fact that Illinois has established a “rebuttable presumption” that certain classes of frontline workers, first responders, and essential employees who sustain injury because of a COVID-19 infection did so as part of their jobs.
COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims present unique challenges, not least of all because of the unprecedented nature of the pandemic.
In most cases, workers’ compensation claims involve traumatic accidents on the job, ones in which the cause of the resultant injuries is largely undeniable. Claims involving illnesses and long-term conditions, however, may be more difficult to establish. Illness claims are typically approved only if they are specifically related to a given profession, such as respiratory illnesses for firefighters. But the widespread nature of the coronavirus itself – which is quite literally a “pandemic” – may place a greater burden on petitioners in COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims to establish a causal connection to their employment.
As you can see, cases involving coronavirus infections on the job may be more difficult than other types of workers’ compensation claims. Difficult is not the same as impossible, however, especially if you have a knowledgeable advocate at your side who can counter even the most strenuous objections from your employer’s insurance company. To see the value of this type of top-shelf legal representation in action, do what so many others have done before you and reach out to the dedicated workers’ compensation attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC.
With more than $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the leading Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury law firms in Illinois. Our Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers have the experience, the determination, the resources, and the reputation of success you need to help get you and your family the justice you deserve.
Contact GWC today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.