Louisiana is one of the hardest-hit states when it comes to COVID-19, with 4,025 reported cases and 185 deaths as of March 30, 2020. Workers who are exposed on the job need to know where to turn for help with their medical bills and lost income. At this point, it remains a question if Louisiana workers will be covered, and if so, which ones. In general, contagious illnesses, such as the flu, are not covered by Workers’ Compensation. But coronavirus may be considered an occupational illness for certain types of workers, such as healthcare workers and first responders. An experienced Shreveport Workers’ Compensation attorney can help you navigate these uncharted waters.
What is an Occupational Disease in Louisiana?
Each state makes its own Workers’ Compensation laws. In Louisiana, occupational illnesses are compensable and are defined as, “disease or illness which is due to causes and conditions characteristic of and peculiar to the particular trade, occupation, process, or employment in which the employee is exposed to such disease.”
COVID-19 is new, and the conditions we are dealing with have never existed in this country on this scale before. Healthcare workers and first responders will most likely qualify for Workers’ Compensation benefits, under Louisiana law, if they catch the virus while performing their jobs. But what about other critical workers, such as grocery store clerks, factory workers and truck drivers? Under normal conditions, a contagious disease would not be considered characteristic of or peculiar to those types of occupations, but with non-essential workers order to stay at home, essential workers are now working under conditions that put them higher risk for exposure. Will this be acknowledged in Louisiana? We don’t know yet.
Louisiana Workers’ Compensation law specifically states that laboratory technicians are covered if they are exposed to a disease due to the nature of their work.
If you have contracted coronavirus at work, it may be possible for you to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits. To learn more, please call the Law Offices of J. Ransdell Keene at 800-597-9247 or contact us online and schedule your free consultation.