The pandemic has roared back here in the United States after reopening, with a record number of diagnosed cases in several states. The number of fatalities has been steadily decreasing, but the fact remains that COVID-19 can still be fatal. Despite the risks, healthcare workers and first responders report to work each day to provide care and support to those with different ailments, including COVID-19.

Unfortunately, there are increasing reports of families of health care workers (including nurses, aides, physician assistance, maintenance staff) facing denials of benefits. This includes everything from an ambulance bill to a lifetime salary replacement for the family of the deceased. At issue is the fact that some states’ Worker’s Compensation does not cover viruses.

New Minnesota law protects workers on the front line

However, Minnesota enacted a new law that protects those at the greatest risk of contracting the virus while on the job on or after April 8. This list includes:

  • Law enforcement
  • Firefighters
  • Health care workers including first responders, assistive employees and maintenance staff
  • Those providing childcare services to first responders and healthcare workers

The date of the employee’s injury is when they were unable to show up for work due to symptoms that later led to a diagnosis of COVID-19. However, employees need not be tested for COVID-19 to qualify for benefits if they have a copy of a positive laboratory test or diagnosis by a licensed medical professional.

Employers can rebut

Employers can argue that work was not the direct cause of the illness. However, they have the burden of proving or “rebutting” that the worker did not contract the virus during regular job duties. Regardless of what the employer believes, they must file a report of the injury with the claim administrator or the compensation insurer, who must notify the employee within two weeks whether the claim is accepted or denied.

Employees and families can get help

Workers’ compensation claims are not always approved, so the injured or ill who have been denied often find it useful to consult with an attorney with experience appealing those claims. These attorneys can also work with clients who contracted COVID-19 or represent the families of workers who died from the virus.