Sixty-two thousand people in Florida have died as a result of exposure to COVID-19 and its variants. Workers who were required to go out and work with the public had been told that they could seek workers’ compensation coverage if they were exposed and fell ill as a result of the virus, but that has changed. What many don’t know is that the workers’ compensation protections for essential and frontline workers have expired.
Due to an executive order, Floridians who were experiencing illnesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic had been able to seek workers’ compensation up until that order expired in January. A news report from January 3, 2022, went over the expiration of this important protection and what it may take to qualify for workers’ compensation due to illness in the future.
Thousands of claims have been made, but more are pending
According to the report, thousands of workers’ compensation claims have been made due to exposure to the coronavirus infection in the workplace, but even though there were protections in place at the time, many of those claims have been denied due to ineligibility issues.
What’s the problem? Speaking with attorney Michael K. Horowitz, he explained that there had been an executive order in place to protect frontline workers’ eligibility for workers’ compensation based on exposure to COVID-19, but that protection ended. Now, workers have very little in the way of workers’ compensation protections in terms of the coronavirus and its influence on their health. This is leading to claims going unpaid.
Close to 8,000 workers’ compensation claims for COVID-19 had been made by state employees as of January 3, and many of those claims still remain open today. The challenge of getting compensation for exposure at work is the biggest issue.
How can you prove that you were exposed at work when the virus is also in the public at places like grocery stores or restaurants?
Horowitz suggests that you place the employer on notice by stating that you believe that you were exposed at work. Then, it’s up to the employer and their workers’ compensation insurance provider to decide if the claim will be accepted and paid out. There is currently no obligation to do so.