One of the biggest challenges for many people seeking workers’ compensation is proving that their illness or injury was the result of their course of employment. It’s up to the workers’ comp applicant to present enough evidence to show that they were injured or sickened as a result of their work duties, not an outside factor.
However, in these unusual times, a bill in the North Carolina General Assembly would make getting approved for workers’ comp easier for essential workers currently dealing with the risk of contracting COVID-19. The bill would make it a “rebuttable presumption” that police officers, nurses, doctors and other essential workers who file a claim based on COVID-19 caught the disease on the job. If the bill passes, many more workers’ comp applications would likely be approved than otherwise. It would also provide $5 million to help pay claims for government employees.
Despite objections from business groups, more than 100 lawmakers have sponsored the bill in the House. However, it has yet to pass.
Similar laws being considered nationwide
In California, an executive order issued by the governor there has already created a rebuttable presumption in favor of workers’ compensation applicants filed by essential workers with COVID-19, or their next of kin if they need survivors’ benefits. Other state legislatures, including New York’s, are considering similar bills.
The workers’ compensation lawyer’s role
The rules for workers’ compensation in North Carolina can make getting approval a challenge, especially on initial application. Employers and their workers’ comp insurers have limiting costs as their top priority, not helping hard-working employees when they get hurt. On appeal, the experience and knowledge of a workers’ compensation attorney can be invaluable.