COVID-19 is placing businesses at risk of more workers’ compensation claims. Although many states thought that they were past the peak, the US has recorded more than 37,000 new cases in 24 hours, narrowly beating the record from the previous day.
This is bad news for businesses, as many owners could be opening themselves up to workers’ compensation claims from their employees who, i.e., those who became infected with COVID-19 at work.
Businesses are now asking what this means for them.
Could Employers Become Liable for the Coronavirus?
Davis, Saperstein & Salomon P.C., workers compensation attorneys, claim that although it is impossible to prove where someone got the virus, employers could still find themselves liable.
Injuries sustained in the workplace through longer hours, overexertion, and exposure to the coronavirus are all valid reasons why employees may be able to claims for workers’ compensation.
The advice from Davis, Saperstein & Salomon P.C. is that all employers should be prepared for the worst.
Drop-in Claims Only Temporary
The overall number of new workers compensation claims in the US has dropped, due to unemployment numbers reaching 20 million, but legal experts believe that this is just a temporary drop.
Frontline industries, such as medicine, aviation, and retail will be at particular risk of workers’ compensation claims in the next few months, and possibly even years. These sectors of the economy, along with several others, cannot operate fully by sending their employees home to work remotely. Hairdressers, for example, must be at the salon to do their job – they cannot cut, wash, dye, or style hair remotely.
The legal profession widely expects an increase of cases in the coming months as the virus continues to spread across the US, particularly in states where a total lockdown wasn’t implemented, such as Arizona, Texas, and Florida.
How Can Employers Reduce their Chances of a Claim?
Employers who are most at risk are those that have not implemented the right coronavirus prevention policies within their workplaces.
Social distancing and masks should be made obligatory, and only essential workers should be asked to come into the workplace. If you can allow some employees to work remotely, you should. Staggered shift start and end times can also provide a boost to social distancing.
Reducing the transmission of the virus is essential to protecting your business from worker’s compensation claims.
Naturally, employers only have control over virus spread for a certain number of hours each day, but with the workplace being a likely environment of close proximity, businesses can make a big difference.
What’s the Guidance for Employers During the Crisis?
Employers can better manage an influx of claims by working with their insurance agents and third-party administrators to create an action plan in the event of an influx of claims.
Davis, Saperstein & Salomon P.C. says that during the global pandemic there’s only so much employers can do to prevent virus transmission, but what they can do is prep their businesses against litigation.
Creating an action plan in the short-term may require an investment of time and resources, but it could potentially save your business going forward.
What are you doing to protect your business during the global virus pandemic?