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Coronavirus and Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Sadly, we have all heard the news about several workers at Tyson Foods dying from Coronavirus. And a number of workplace environments around the country are turning out to be infection “hot spots”. This leaves many people wondering whether workers’ compensation benefits can be awarded for illness due to the Coronavirus. The circumstances are so new that there is no clear answer under Georgia law. At this point I would say benefits are theoretically possible, but there are some problems.

 

Georgia law does allow workers’ compensation claims for work-related illnesses, known as “occupational diseases”. The occupational disease statute is set forth in the Georgia Workers Compensation Act.  The statute requires a worker show that the disease “is not of a character to which the employee may have had substantial exposure outside of the employment”  AND that “the disease is not an ordinary disease of life to which the general public is exposed.”  Showing these facts may be difficult given that the virus is so widespread as to have become a pandemic. However, it might be possible to make a claim if an infected worker could show a lack of exposure except at work.

 

If you think you contracted the Coronavirus at work, please call any time for a free consultation. (770) 534-5265.