Massachusetts has taken the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic seriously, ordering all nonessential businesses to close as of March 24, 2020, in order to help stop the spread. Unfortunately, this means that thousands of workers across the state are out of work and unable to earn a living.
But simply being out of work doesn’t mean you are entitled to workers compensation benefits. Below, we go into greater detail about when you might be able to collect workers compensation benefits and what these benefits may consist of.
Eligibility Requirements for Workers Comp in MA
In order to be eligible for workers compensation benefits in Massachusetts, you will need to have become injured or ill due to the circumstances of your work environment. As long as you were injured or became ill through the scope of your work, you should be entitled to workers compensation benefits. However, there are several ways a person can be declared ineligible for workers comp benefits. Some of the most common reasons for workers compensation denials include:
- Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol when you became injured or ill
- Being in violation of your company’s code of conduct (e.g., working off the clock)
- Not reporting your condition to your employer within the specified period of time
- Having a self-inflicted injury or illness
These are just a few instances in which a workers comp claim may be denied. However, these have no bearing on what would happen if you were diagnosed with coronavirus as a result of your work.
Workers Comp for a Coronavirus Diagnosis
As of the writing of this article, Massachusetts has an order in place that requires all nonessential businesses to close. This means that only “essential” employees are currently working. In theory, this would mean that if you contracted the coronavirus at work, whether it be due to an infected employee, consumer, or another way, you could be entitled to workers compensation benefits.
Now with that being said, there is currently no way to know for sure how you contracted the coronavirus. The information regarding how long COVID-19 remains on mail, packages, steel, plastic, and other materials is still limited, and there may not be a sure way to tell if you contracted coronavirus at work at this time. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t entitled to benefits.
If a colleague, supervisor, or family member of someone you work with wasdiagnosed with coronavirus before you, there is a stronger possibility that you contracted it at work.
Nonessential employees who later come down with the coronavirus may also be able to obtain workers compensation benefits, as the disease can be asymptomatic for a period of 2 to 14 days. You will need to speak with an attorney about the individual details of your case to learn more about what your options are.
Speak with a Boston Workers Compensation Lawyer
If you have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and are in need of assistance obtaining workers compensation benefits, contact a qualified Boston workers comp lawyer at Joel H. Schwartz, PC for help. You can fill out the quick contact form we have included at the bottom of this page or give our office a call at 617-742-1170 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.