Frontline Workers in Florida Eligible for Covid-19 Workers Comp Benefits
Florida has joined a number of other U.S. states in ensuring that both public and private-sector health care workers, first responders, and others on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic are protected by workers’ compensation benefits if they contract the disease in the course of their work.
As of April 15, Florida had over 21,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 524 deaths from the virus.
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) on April 6 sent a memo to all state-regulated insurers and other entities that underwrite workers’ comp insurance providing guidance on the treatment of policyholders in accordance with the governor’s COVID-19 state of emergency declaration and executive orders. The letter reminded insurers that Florida law requires employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage “if the employee suffers a compensable injury arising out of work performed in the course and scope of employment” (§440.151, Fla Stat.).
Consequently, first responders, health care workers, and others who contract COVID-19 as a result of their job-related exposure will be eligible for workers’ comp benefits under the statute, according to the memorandum.
Florida law requires state employers with four or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance to provide injured workers with access to medical benefits and other compensation if they are hurt while on the job. The protection also extends to “occupational diseases” contracted at work. However, just because it’s codified in the law doesn’t mean it’s easy for every worker when they need to actually collect benefits, which is why it’s essential to have a skilled Florida workers’ comp lawyer on your side.
Workers’ Comp Protections Guaranteed for Front-Line State Employees
Earlier, the state’s Chief Financial Officer issued a directive requiring workers’ compensation coverage for public employees on the “front line of COVID-19,” establishing that state workers who test positive for the virus will have a compensable claim “for occupational disease” under Florida statute, unless the state can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the employee contracted the virus outside the scope of his or her public employment.
According to the directive, front-line state employees include:
- First responders—law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics
- Corrections officers in state-operated detention facilities
- State employees in the healthcare field whose duties require contact with persons infected with COVID-19
- Child safety investigators
- Florida National Guard members called to active duty in response to COVID-19
The OIR memo, which extends the benefit guarantees to Florida private-sector employees, served to remind insurers of their obligation to comply with all provisions of state workers’ comp law, “which must be applied on a non-discriminatory basis.” The office stated that it would “take appropriate action in the event of non-compliance.”
Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group Is Here To Protect Your Workers’ Comp Rights
The dedicated Tampa workers’ compensation attorneys at Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group remain eager and available to serve clients during the COVID-19 crisis. Going up against governmental entities can be intimidating, which is why many Floridians who have sustained injuries and illnesses at work have successfully retained our firm to help them obtain their full and fair benefits. If you believe you contracted coronavirus in the course of your job, our team stands at the ready to help you with a COVID-19 related workers’ comp claim regardless of whether you are a health care worker. Please reach out to our experienced Tampa workers’ comp lawyers today.