In most circumstances, when an employee is injured or contracts an illness from a work-related occurrence, workers’ compensation insurance is the appropriate remedy. Only in unique circumstances can an employee succeed on a lawsuit against their employer. In Florida, those unique circumstances require workers to prove that the injury was intentional, or the employer had “virtual certainty” that such an injury would occur. Due to the difficulty to meet those burdens, these claims are typically handled through workers’ compensation.
However, with the Coronavirus pandemic continuing to plague the United States, essential workers are being thrust on to the front lines and are some of the most at-risk to contract the illness. This raises the question whether employees who contract Coronavirus have the ability to recover benefits through workers’ compensation. As Miami Workers’ Compensation attorneys, it is essential to understand the changing laws and circumstances surrounding the system.
In most jurisdictions, the burden falls on the claimant to show that the injury “arose out of and in the course of the employment” and that a causal connection between the injury and employment existed. Because the information regarding the transmission of Coronavirus is speculative and unreliable at this point, without enabling legislation, meeting this burden of proof would be nearly impossible.
However, states should look to follow California’s lead as the state recently enacted legislation that shifts the burden to the employer by creating a rebuttable presumption that an employee’s Coronavirus related illness arose out of the course of employment. It is now up the employer to rebut this presumption and will likely face difficulty in doing so due to the uncertain information associated with the transmission of the virus.
Legislation like California’s will make it possible for essential front-line workers to recover the appropriate and deserved benefits as they continue to provide services in consumer’s time of need. As attorneys that specialize in worker’s compensation it is great to see state governments providing means of obtaining benefits for people who deserve it.