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Covid-19 And Workers’ Compensation

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You just tested positive for COVID-19 and believe you contracted the virus through work, what is the likelihood of proving your claim? The COVID-19 pandemic has placed the world in unchartered territory including it’s effect on workers’ compensation benefits in Florida.

There are several factors that come into play when determining whether a COVID-19 case will be accepted as compensable. Each case should be examined on a case-by-case basis. From a legal standpoint, the argument for compensability of COVID-19 claims falls under two legal theories. The first is Florida Statutes section 440.02(1), which defines what constitutes an “accident” under Chapter 440. This section provides that “an injury or disease caused by exposure to a toxic substance…is not an injury by accident arising out of employment unless there is clear and convincing evidence establishing that exposure to the specific substance involved, at the level to which the employee was exposed, can cause injury or disease sustained to all employees.”

Section 440.02(1) requires proof by clear and convincing evidence, as opposed to the lesser preponderance of the evidence standard. This higher standard of proof requires evidence of more than just merely logical, or in other words must be proven by more that speculation or conjecture. The problem with proving by clear and convincing evidence is that is it widely known that the virus can be contracted just about anywhere including grocery stores, restaurants, gyms and social gatherings. Accordingly, to prove compensability, an employee must provide expert medical testimony that clearly and convincingly establishes prolonged exposure to the virus, the cumulative effect of which made the employee contract the virus as a result of exposure greater than that of the general public. It appears to be almost impossible to meet the heightened standard of proof.

The second theory of compensability is the occupational disease provision of 440.151. Section 440.151 provides that an occupational disease is compensable if:

1. There is a condition that is peculiar to the occupation that causes the disease;
2. The employee contracts the disease during employment in the occupation;
3. The occupation presents a particular hazard of the disease;
4. The incidence of ordinary diseases of life is substantially higher in the occupation than in the public; and
5. There are epidemiological studies showing that exposure to the specific substance involved, at the levels to which the employee was exposed, may cause the precise disease sustained by the employee.

Here we are obviously talking about frontline health care workers that have been specifically and knowingly exposed to individuals who have contracted the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already indicated that those health care workers are at a higher risk to contract COVID-19 than the general public. Nevertheless, both causation and sufficient exposure must again be proven by clear and convincing evidence.

The State of Florida has already sent a strong message to workers’ compensation carriers and businesses. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-05M. Section 440.09 requires an employer to provide workers’ compensation coverage if the employee suffers a compensable injury arising out of work performed in the course and scope of employment. First responders, health care workers, and others that contract COVID-19 due to work-related exposure would be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits under Florida law. See Sec. 440.151, Florida Statutes.

Vanessa Castro Viera
Vanessa Castro Viera
November 3, 2023
I had the privilege of working with Kelli Martinez as my personal injury attorney, and I can't express enough how grateful I am for her exceptional guidance and support throughout the entire process. From the moment I first contacted her to the conclusion of my case, Kelli demonstrated an unwavering commitment to ensuring my rights were protected and that I received the compensation I deserved. I highly recommend her to anyone seeking legal representation for personal injury cases.
Jen Wiradilaga (SWFL Horses)
Jen Wiradilaga (SWFL Horses)
October 19, 2023
I am so pleased with the service and care Mr. Murphy has shown. Always has time for a phone call , emailed questions are answered so quickly , it is refreshing. I had guidance every step of the way. My Case was settled quickly and effectively. Everyone that is in this off is is exceptional! Thank you so much
amanda reese
amanda reese
October 17, 2023
Mr. Murphy and his team were amazing to work with. In a stressful situation they were on top of making sure I understood my options and walking me through the process when I’d stress out. He fought to make sure I was fairly treated and not just another person swept under the rug and forgot about. I highly recommend him if you ever need and hope to have a timely resolution and team that is top notch.
Ana Maria Araujo
Ana Maria Araujo
October 12, 2023
I am very grateful to Ed Murphy for accepting my case against work compensation, otherwise I wouldn't have had another doctor for a second examination and I would have been at home without being able to work again. I am thankful for all the work Ed and his assistant Jessica have done in my case. I am very happy with the service, every time I called I was treated very nicely by the front desk staff, Kelly. Thanks
Carlene Overacker
Carlene Overacker
October 6, 2023
I highly recommend Mr. Murphy. He immediately responded to the issues I was having with my workers compensation case. He reached out to me in a timely manner. I was always able to get ahold of him via the phone and emails. I never felt rushed in our meetings and conversations. He was professional and courteous. I am very satisfied how quickly I received my settlement.
Erica Aghoian
Erica Aghoian
September 22, 2023
I highly recommend contacting Ed Murphy with your worker's compensation case. From day one he took the time to explain all aspects of the case, listened to my questions and concerns, and kept me up-to-date as the case progressed. I believe he was able to achieve the best possible outcome with my case, and I couldn't be happier to have worked with him. I had never hired an attorney before, but he immediately put me at ease and had my trust. Great experience from start to finish!
Patricia Lara
Patricia Lara
September 12, 2023
I can't say enough how much help Ed Murphy was during such a difficult situation. From day one he was understanding and made us feel at ease. He helped us achieve the most positive out come in our law suit with workers comp. If you ever need assistance I highly recommend contacting Ed Murphy!
Trust Cleaning Inc
Trust Cleaning Inc
August 15, 2023
This message is for anyone who needs a good lawyer, I recommend Ed Murphy because he is a professional and patient person, he fights until the end of his case or any type of case, I recommend him to everyone 100% . there is no other attorney like ed murphy i just have to say thank you so much for helping me with my accident case.

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