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  • Dean Smith

Multiple States Increasingly Directing COVID-19 Pandemic Claims to Worker’s Compensation Carriers

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

The true impact that COVID-19 will have on the worker’s compensation industry is relatively unknown. However, it has been made clear in an article by Jim Sams of Claims Journal that several state lawmakers are pushing for worker’s compensation carriers to pick up the tab.

See a list of states who recently updated their policies below, some more extreme than others:

Wyoming: Both House and Senate passed a bill that, “creates a presumption that any workers covered by the state’s monopoly workers’ comp system had an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. Claimants will still be required to prove that the disease was contracted from work.”

Arizona: The Arizona Industrial Commission issued a statement highlighting that, “All claims must be reviewed and investigated in good faith,” and “Claim denials related to COVID-19, like any claim denial, must be ‘well grounded in fact’ and ‘warranted by existing law’ (or based upon a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law).”

California: Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order, “creating a presumption that COVID-19 contracted by any employee who had to work from home was the result of on-the-job exposure. Employers are required to decide whether to accept or deny those claims within 30 days, but worker must submit medical confirmation that they were infected by the novel coronavirus within 14 days.”

In addition, multiple states have also issued legislation that ensures coverage for “first responders, health care workers or other essential workers” – prior to stay-at-home orders being lifted, of course, as more businesses continue to open which is widely varied by state.

Although legislation is pushing in the direction of worker’s compensation responsibility, the burden of proof still appears to lie on the worker to provide evidence that they fell ill while in the capacity of their job. And the costs associated? Truly anyone’s guess!

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