On July 24, 2020, the governor of Connecticut issued Executive Order No. 7JJJ regarding COVID-19 and workers’ compensation. In this executive order, the governor determined that any individual who contracted COVID-19 in the state of Connecticut from March 10, 2020 to May 20, 2020 while working could qualify for workers’ compensation.
The prerequisites for making a claim are that the individual must have:
- Missed at least 1 day of work between those dates (March 10 to May 20, 2020)
- Worked outside the home at the direction of the employer, and
- Had a positive test confirmed by a laboratory test within 3 weeks from the date of injury.
Typically, Connecticut has a law similar to Georgia with regard to occupational diseases. This law states that there must be something peculiar to the job that causes the occupational disease. An example of this would be an individual who works in an asbestos plant and subsequently developed mesothelioma.
The Connecticut executive order states that this presumption is suspended in that an individual who proves that they tested positive during this time via a test from a Connecticut lab is entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. These dates coincide with the spike of COVID-19 cases in Connecticut.
How Georgia workers’ comp law differs
Georgia has yet to adopt a policy like this, although it would be very beneficial to workers who have contracted COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has indicated that Georgia remains a hotspot for COVID-19 and people continue to contract it.
For example, there have been reported cases of individuals working in chicken plants contracting COVID-19 where there is a breakout of the virus.
O.C.G.A.. 34-9-280(2) says “occupational disease means those diseases which arise out of and in the scope and course of employment… and that the disease is not of a character to which the employee may have had substantial exposure outside of the employment.”
This makes it very difficult to bring a workers’ compensation claim for contracting COVID 19 on the job. The reason is that, unfortunately, COVID-19 is everywhere. At this time, it’s nearly impossible to prove that a person obtained the virus on the job and not through their daily activities such as going to the store.
Unless a person quarantines himself or herself and only goes to and from their job (along with not living with anyone who has tested positive), it may be near impossible to bring a coronavirus workers’ comp claim in Georgia.
There may be some exceptions if an individual worked in a high-risk job. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney at Gerber & Holder Law to discuss your rights.