With concerns about COVID-19 at the forefront of everyone’s minds, some of you may be wondering if you would be covered by workers’ compensation if you contract the illness.
The answer is: maybe.
Depending on the circumstances, COVID-19 may be considered an occupational illness or disease which is covered under NRS Chapter 617. For an occupational disease to be covered by workers’ compensation, it must arise out of and in the course of employment. There are a number of factors that must be met in order to constitute the “out of and in the course of employment” requirement, including:
- There must be a direct causal connection between the conditions under which the work is performed and the occupational disease;
- The occupational disease followed as a natural incident of the work as a result of the exposure caused by the nature of the employment;
- It can be fairly traced to the employment as the proximate cause; and
- It does not come from a hazard to which workers would have been equally exposed outside of employment.
This means there must be a direct connection between your work and exposure to COVID-19. Simply contracting the illness does not mean that you will be covered by workers’ compensation. However, if you are a healthcare professional or a first responder and you contract COVID-19 in the scope of your employment, you are likely covered by workers’ compensation.
What do I do if I contract COVID-19 in the scope of my employment?
If you contract COVID-19 and believe that it was due to your employment, there are some necessary steps you must take to ensure that you are covered by workers’ compensation. First, you must notify your employer within seven (7) days of discovering you have the illness. This is done by completing a Notice of Accident/Illness (C-1) form. You are also required to get medical treatment within 90 days of discovering the illness. A Claim for Compensation (C-4) form must be completed and submitted to your employer documenting your treatment.
The good news is that all signs indicate that full recovery from COVID-19 is likely and does not result in any lasting effects. This means that workers’ compensation would most likely cover your medical expenses and any time loss from work.
***Specific recommendations for first responders (police/fire/EMS) and/or healthcare providers***
If you are a first responder or a healthcare provider whose job requires you to put yourself out on the front lines, thereby increasing your risk of exposure, we believe that insurance companies should (and will) provide coverage if you contract the virus and it results in disablement (i.e. – requiring medical treatment and incurring medical expenses and/or time loss from work.) In order to help protect a possible claim, if necessary, we recommend the following:
For situations where you are required to come into close contact with an individual who may have the COVID-19 (experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms, was known to have been exposed, etc.) but who has not been diagnosed with the virus, we recommend that you simply document the possible exposure in the CAD file, incident/crime report or other medical reporting/charting. You may also want to keep track of these potential exposure incidents for future ease of reference, should they become necessary. Note: we do not believe it is necessary for you to complete a Notice of Accident/Illness (C-1) form simply because you were exposed to an individual who may have the virus.
For those who are exposed to an individual who is known to have COVID-19 (you were unprotected and within six feet of the individual, were sneezed or coughed on, had to go “hands-on,” etc.), we recommend that you complete a Notice of Accident/Illness (C-1) form as soon as practicable and in no event later than seven (7) days following the incident. We also recommend that you calendar yourself a reminder to file a Claim for Compensation (C-4) form within 90 days if that becomes necessary. Remember, a C-1 form is not a claim for workers’ compensation, it is simply a notice to your employer that you had an incident where you were exposed to an occupational disease.
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, we recommend that you immediately complete a Notice of Accident/Illness (C-1) form. As noted above, the good news is that all signs indicate that recovery from COVID-19 is likely, and it will not likely require any specific treatment and will not result in any lasting effects. If your condition does not require any specific medical treatment or result in time loss from work, we do not recommend that you file a Claim for Compensation (C-4) form. However, as previously indicated, if your condition progresses or leads to symptoms that do require specific medical treatment and/or time loss from work, you have 90 days to file the claim. Make sure you adhere to this strict 90-day deadline provided by the statute. We recommend that you calendar yourself a reminder to file a Claim for Compensation (C-4) form, should that become necessary.
In summary, we recommend the following:
- Document (in CAD, incident reports, call logs, medical charting, etc.) potential exposures when:
- You have been exposed to someone who may have COVID-19
- Complete and file a Notice of Accident/Illness (C-1) form within seven (7) days when:
- You have unprotected exposure to someone who is known to have COVID-19
- When you are diagnosed with COVID-19
- Seek medical treatment and complete/file a Claim for Compensation (C-4) form within 90 days when:
- You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 with symptoms that require specific medical treatment, resulting in medical-related expenses and/or time loss from work
Resources & Forms: