COVID-19 and Filing for
Workers’ Compensation Benefits in New York
(Updated December 15, 2021)
Dear Friends and Clients,
Our firm is dedicated to providing you with support and guidance during this unprecedented time. We understand that there are many questions and concerns regarding workers’ compensation in reference to COVID-19. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have provided updates regarding the state of the Workers’ Compensation Law as it has evolved. See below for changes that have occurred since our last update. However, the Board’s or court’s opinions may change in the next few months or years as a result of appellate decisions or changes in the law. In addition, each case depends on its own specific set of facts.
Based upon the decisions that have been made by the Workers’ Compensation Board, cases must meet the following to be established:
- A claimant must provide proof of a positive COVID-19 test or a medical report diagnosing COVID-19.
- A claimant must show that COVID-19 was prevalent in the workplace. There must be evidence of significantly elevated hazards of exposure in the workplace which demonstrates that the level of exposure is extraordinary. The nature and extent of work activities must include significant contact with the public and/or co-workers in an area where COVID-19 is prevalent. These can be proven based upon the testimony of the claimant and co-workers.
Injury/Illness as a Result of a Mandated Vaccine
It may be possible to establish a workers’ compensation claim for a medically diagnosable injury/illness sustained as a result of receiving an employer mandated vaccine. If a claimant is injured as a result of receiving the vaccine or suffers an illness that has been diagnosed by a medical doctor, a claim should be filed with the Workers’ Compensation Board and notice given to the employer.
Keep in mind:
- A medical report with a diagnosis of COVID-19 is not necessary. Providing a positive test result or a medical report listing your symptoms may be sufficient.
- If you have contracted COVID-19, your case can be established if you can show either a direct exposure or that there are significantly elevated hazards of exposure at the workplace.
- If you are claiming a direct exposure, you must be able to provide information regarding the details of the exposure such as location and date.
- In a claim for an accident, you have 30 days from the exposure to notify your employer. This 30-day requirement may be waived if your employer was not prejudiced by the lack of timely notice.
- You must file a claim with the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board within two years of the date of accident.
- You may be entitled to other benefits provided under Federal or New York State laws for loss of salary or sick time.
- This information is based upon the current state of the law and is subject to change and depends on the exact circumstances of each employee.
- A claim can be established as a result of a work exposure to a COVID-19 positive coworker.
- A claim may be established for an injury/illness suffered as a result of receiving an employer-mandated vaccine. The claimant must submit a medical report providing a diagnosis and an opinion that the injury/illness was caused by the vaccine.
FAQs:Workers’ Compensation & COVID-19
(Updated December 15, 2021)
Yes. Workers can file for workers’ compensation benefits if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 that arises out of the course of their employment. Generally, any worker who is diagnosed with COVID-19 as a result of their employment has a claim for an accident. The worker has 30 days from the exposure to notify their employer.
A worker should obtain a copy of the positive COVID-19 test result, notify their employer, and file a claim with the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board. A claim must be filed within two years of the date of accident.
Yes. This would be considered a case if it arises out of the course of their job duties.
Yes. However, the worker must be able to prove that COVID-19 was contracted as a result of their work activities. The worker has to prove that COVID-19 was prevalent at the workplace. There must be evidence of significantly elevated hazards of exposure and the worker must have had significant contact with the public or co-workers in an area where COVID-19 was prevalent. The worker should keep a record of the details of the exposure, including the date and place of the exposure.
They are entitled to medical benefits and a wage replacement benefit that is up to 2/3 of their average weekly wage. However, the appropriate statutory maximums will apply with regard to the wage replacement benefit.
It is possible to have a case established under the Workers’ Compensation Law if the worker can provide proof that the vaccine was mandated by the employer and a medical report which provides a diagnosis and an opinion that the condition was caused by the vaccine.
Attorney Advertising: The information presented is intended to help you understand your rights, it is not intended to provide legal advice. Prepared 4/2/2020 by Vincent Rossillo, Esq. Updated: 12/15/21.