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Wisconsin workers and coronavirus

| May 21, 2020 | Workers' Compensation, Workers' Compensation - News

Governor Evers signed a Coronavirus Relief Bill on April 15 with new language for First Responders who contract Covid-19. Under the statute, the term First Responder means an employee or volunteer for an employer that provides firefighting, law enforcement, or medical treatment of Covid-19 and who has regular direct contact with or is regularly in close proximity to patients or other members of the public requiring emergency services. The injury claim must be accompanied by a specific diagnosis by a physician or by a positive Covid-19 test. Significantly, an injury claimed under this section may be rebutted by specific evidence that the injury was caused by exposure to Covid-19 outside the first responder’s work for the employer.

For the rest of Wisconsin employees who are not first responders, no presumption exists and these cases will be denied and fought vigorously.

Wisconsin workers exposed to the coronavirus and contracting it should be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they can show their work exposure was more likely than not the cause of the disease. Insurance carriers, however, as in any other occupation disease, will defend these claims vigorously, trying to show some exposure other than work was responsible for the worker contracting the disease. We have seen questionnaires asking the following:

  • Have you been exposed to anyone diagnosed to coronavirus?
  • Was anyone else exposed to the same person?
  • When did the symptoms first present?
  • Have you tested positive for coronavirus?
  • Where was the test taken?
  • Who lives in your household?
  • Have any family members shown signs of coronavirus or tested positive for coronavirus?
  • Have you or any family members traveled within the U.S. within the last 60 days?
  • When? Where? And who traveled?
  • Have you traveled outside the U.S. in the last 60 days?
  • Have you been in contact with anyone who has traveled anywhere in the last 30 days?
  • Have you eaten in a restaurant in the past 60 days?
  • When? Where? Who at with you?
  • Have you gone to a grocery store within the past 60 days?
  • When? Where? Did a clerk check you out?
  • Have you shopped at any store within the past 60 days?
  • When? Where? Did a clerk check you out?
  • Have you visited a hospital or clinic within the last 60 days?
  • When? Where?
  • Have you been exposed to any animals that may have traveled within the last 60 days?
  • When and where?
  • Do you have bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, lung disease, emphysema, or other chest trouble?

Even though certain industries – meat packing, food preparation, retail sales, grocery stores – have been hotbeds of coronavirus outbreak, insurance carriers that ensure these workplaces will defend these cases vigorously. An attorney involvement is crucial.

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