During the COVID-19 crisis, the bravery displayed by healthcare workers, police, bus drivers, and other essential workers has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. Every day, these people put their health on the line to help people and keep our society from completely shutting down. But are we doing enough to help them in return?
Many front-line workers have come down with the coronavirus, leading to missed work, medical bills, emotional distress, and other damages. Most Americans would agree that these heroes deserve workers’ compensation benefits — but the insurance companies may not be so quick to fulfill their claims.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides benefits and wages to people who were hurt on the job. These benefits vary by industry and state, but most employees are entitled to some form of workers’ compensation.
Importantly, this is a no-fault system, so workers don’t need to prove that their employers were negligent or at fault to receive workers’ comp benefits. Liability is not an issue; rather, it’s understood that the employee would not have suffered the injury if they hadn’t been working at the time.
Which Occupations Are Most at Risk of Catching COVID-19?
There are three main criteria that determine risk level when it comes to the coronavirus: contact with others, physical proximity, and exposure to disease and infection. Based on these factors, these are some of the occupations most susceptible to the virus:
- Healthcare workers (especially nurses, dentists, and respiratory therapists)
- Flight attendants
- Bus drivers
- Corrections officers
- Police officers
- Social workers
- Bank tellers
- Food service workers
Keep in mind that the above is not a complete list. Any essential worker who regularly comes into contact with other people may contract the virus while on the job.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
Speaking broadly, workers’ compensation benefits can be divided into four categories:
- Lost income
- Medical bills
- Disability benefits
- Vocational training (in the event that the injured person can no longer do their job effectively)
Lost income and medical bills are the benefits most likely to be needed by someone who gets COVID-19. Depending on the severity of their symptoms, they might require an ambulance, a lengthy hospital stay, medication, and ventilator treatment. If the disease proves fatal, their family likely has to pay for funeral expenses. But even if the worker only has moderate symptoms, they are likely to miss several days of work, for which they may or may not be compensated.