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Could I still make a claim if I can't point to a specific source of exposure but work around people who have been diagnosed?Yes. According to the workers' compensation statute, "Personal injury includes a disease or disability that is due to causes and conditions that are characteristic of and peculiar to the business of the employer and that arises out of and in the course of the employment." Another way to describe these might be injuries or diseases that arise over time. Remember, the key with any injury is that it must be attributable to work. For example, the statute goes on to state that, "An ordinary disease of life to which the public is generally exposed outside of the employment is not compensable."
How do I prove my workers' compensation claim?For claims involving Covid-19 exposure, it depends on the type of your employment. If you are a First Response Employee, and you are diagnosed with COVID-19 infection either by a physician or as a result of a test, between March 20, 2020 and March 20, 2021 based on your specific type of employment sector and unless proven otherwise, you are considered to have a personal injury that arises out of and in the course of your employment. Non-First Response Employees or First Response Employees that are exposed outside of the period mentioned must prove their claim using the normal statutory process. Employers always have the opportunity to obtain contrary evidence to present if they choose, and to dispute a claim.
I have COVID-19 infection and I think it came from work, is it covered under workers' compensation?Yes, it can be. Workers' compensation is designed to provide benefits to workers whose injuries "arise out of and in the course of the employment." In most cases, it is obvious whether an injury happened at work (such as a fall from a ladder). There are, however, times when the relationship between the job and the injury will be questioned.
If I am not considered a First Response Employee, can I still make a claim for an injury or occupational disease if diagnosed with COVID-19 infection?Yes. If you can identify specific exposure to COVID-19, such as a date, location, etc. and have been diagnosed by a physician or test, you may be able to show you have suffered a personal injury and therefore may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. Remember, Michigan is a wage loss system so in order to be eligible for any benefits a worker must show that the exposure arose out of and in the course of employment like any other work injury and that it has caused a loss of wage earning capacity in work suitable to your qualifications and training.
What benefits are available if my workers' compensation claim is approved?The workers' compensation law provides a strict limit on the benefits that an individual can receive as the result of a job-related injury/illness. You can only receive certain specified 1) wage loss benefits, 2) medical benefits, 3) rehabilitation benefits and 4) burial allowance in the case of the employee's death.
When and for how long are my workers' compensation benefits paid?MCL 418.311 of the Worker's Disability Compensation Act provides that compensation is paid only after your injury or illness causes wage loss for a period of at least one week (7 consecutive days). If your wage loss lasts beyond one week, you are entitled to benefits as of the eighth day after the start of the wage loss. If your wage loss continues for two weeks or longer, then you are entitled to be paid compensation for the first week of wage loss. Your first check is due and payable on the 14th day of wage loss. However, a benefit check is not considered late until 30 days after the due date. Your benefits continue so long as you suffer wage loss, which could be for the rest of your life. However, your benefits can be reduced by other employer funded benefits, old age social security, and when you turn 65 at 5% per year up to age 75.
Who is defined as a "First Response Employee?"Under the 3-30-2020 Workers' Disability Compensation Agency Emergency Rules, a First Response Employee is defined as one or more of the following:
- A person working in ambulance operations and advanced mobile emergency care services, county medical care facilities, emergency services, emergency medical services, homes for the aged, hospices, hospitals and nursing homes.
- A person working in a home health agency or visiting nurse association.
- Any person working as a physician, physician assistant, nurse, emergency medical technician, paramedic or respiratory therapist.
- Any police officers, fire fighters, emergency medical technicians, on-call members of a fire department, volunteer civil defense workers, on-call members of a life support agency or members of an emergency rescue team, as those terms are used in the Worker's Disability Compensation Act of 1969, 1969 PA 317.
- A member of the Michigan State Police or an officer of the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division of the Department of the State Police.
- A Michigan Department of Corrections Officer or local corrections officer.
This rule expired on March 20, 2021.