These are unprecedented times and the Missouri lawyers at Northland Injury Law are waiting to see how the first big workers’ compensation claim for coronavirus will work its way through court.
An injury suffered as a result of a work accident is a serious legal matter. Northland Injury Law’s Missouri compensation lawyers have helped countless workers fight for their rights under the Missouri workers compensation laws. If you have suffered a work injury, there is a good chance your employer has workers’ compensation insurance coverage to cover your medical treatment, lost wages, and settlement for your permanent injury. When an injury occurs, you should contact a workmans comp attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights. Many injured workers think they will automatically be provided with adequate medical care and timely lost wage payments. However, many workers quickly find out that the insurance carriers do not play fair. The Kansas City workers compensation attorneys at Northland Injury Law have the experience necessary to help you navigate the workers’ compensation system and obtain a fair and just recovery, whether by settlement or by prosecuting your work injury claim through a hearing.
Herb Santos, Jr. heads The Law Firm of Herb Santos, Jr. in Reno and specializes in workers’ compensation and personal injury.
He’s representing a man in his late 20’s who he says, will be on oxygen the rest of his life because he caught COVID-19 at his workplace of Lakeside Health and Wellness.
It’s an assisted living facility which, early in the pandemic, was the place of half of Washoe County’s COVID deaths and Santos says, half the patients had COVID.
Santos said his client worked long hours taking care of those infected and wasn’t around anyone else who tested positive.
“The period of time right before he came down with it, they [employees] were being told to take off their mask, turn it inside out, and go into the next room,” said Santos.
He said the client was in the hospital for weeks, on a ventilator, and he was new to the job so his insurance didn’t kick in until three days after his care started.
“Where will he go if everything is denied through Workers’ Comp. and then he has to pay this six-figure bill?” said Santos. “How is he going to pay for all the treatment the rest of his life?”
So how do you look after your health and finances if you think you’re exposed to COVID-19 at work?
Number one, Santos said, write everything down.
There’s a reason there aren’t an onslaught of people filing Workers’ Comp claims, he said.
“The injured worker [must show he/she] was not equally exposed to the virus outside of work. That’s the tough part. We’re in a pandemic. That’s why i said you’re going to want to document. I would say go back several weeks. Do as much tracing as you can to demonstrate the most likely source of exposure was that exposure at work.”
Then, he said, start fill out what’s called a C1 form, or Notice of Injury or Occupational Disease.
You have seven days to get the C1 to your employer but he said try to do it as soon as possible so the employer can enact proper protocols to protect everyone from exposure.
If you experience symptoms, fill out a C4 form, or Employee’s Claim for Compensation/Report of Initial Treatment.
That’s the form a doctor needs to sign and it must be filed within 90 days of exposure.
Santos said it’s important to bring all the documentation written down about exposure with you for the doctor to see.
“If the doctor says no, that’s the first rule. You can’t file a Workers’ Comp. claim. But, if you provide all the documentation showing the source is there, then the doctor should be able to check yes. The doctor then sends that to insurance and that’s going to be the start of your claim.”
Santos said healthcare workers, first responders and like who may provide services to a person with COVID or have exposure, don’t have such a heavy burden of proof because it’s deemed work related.
Should you explore Workers’ Compensation even if you don’t go to the hospital?
Santos said anyone exposed or infected with COVID-19 through work should look into filing a claim.
“Even if you don’t go to the hospital because your doctor has you stay at home, but you’re having respiratory issues, you’re going to run the risk of having some type of residual scarring of that lungs that may affect you the rest of your life,” he said.
If you can establish your side effects getting worse and that they’re a progression from the original claim injury, you can dip back into the benefits.
Santos worries some people who will experience health issues down the road will miss out on this because they chose not to file a claim because they didn’t go to the hospital or because their employer kept them on payroll, since for most, symptoms only last a short time.
“That made people a lot more comfortable and I think if their bills were being paid, they didn’t file a Workers’ Comp. claim. I think that may end up being a mistake.”
Don’t feel bad about filing a Workers’ Compensation claim.
“A person’s not suing their employer. They’re filing an insurance claim. Just like if they got in a car accident, they’d file a claim or if they go to a doctor’s, they fill our a health insurance claim,” Santos said. “That’s what it is. Filing a Workers’ Comp. is not some big type of litigation.”
He said the litigation is happening because insurance companies put profits over people and with so many insurance companies, claims are handled differently.
“A lot of time, when folks get a denial letter, they’re like, ‘Oh, I guess I’m not entitled to it,’ and they never talk to an attorney. But if they did, they’d find out, no, this is what Workers’ Comp. insurance is for,” Santos said. “It’s a policy the employer has been paying premiums for to protect their workers so you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable to use it.”
Call Northland Injury Law for Help With Your Work-Related Injury!
If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, Northland Injury Law can help ensure you get full and fair compensation under the law. The attorneys at Northland Injury Law are experienced in navigating the ins and out of the workers’ compensation process and their experience can help you with a complicated claim. For a more comprehensive list of all the questions you might have about workers’ compensation, and for a free consultation, please call (816)-400-4878. If you have further questions about your case, do not hesitate to reach out to us by the phone number, through the contact form, or even with the live chat option listed on our site!