Missouri First Responders Infected by COVID-19 Covered by Workers Comp
Missouri first responders with COVID-19 are now eligible for workers’ compensation under a new emergency rule, according to a joint announcement from the state’s governor and the director of the Missouri Department of Labor.The news was greeted positively by local police officers, such as Jefferson City Police Department Officer Jeremy Bowman. Bowman, who spoke at Governor Mike Parson’s live-streamed announcement, said that “knowing that (exposure to the virus) will be treated as a duty-related illness will allow peace of mind for our officers and our loving families.”While the new order goes into effect this week, it also applies retroactively to cover any first responders already diagnosed with the coronavirus or who are under quarantine.
What the New Emergency COVID-19 Rule Means
Under Missouri’s worker compensation laws, an employee must prove he or she became ill or was injured on the job. The COVID-19 directive removes the burden of proof that a first responder obtained the disease during the course of their duties.According to Anna Hui, the director of the Missouri Department of Labor, qualifying for workers’ compensation would’ve been difficult and problematic without the emergency measure. After all, how could a first responder prove an infection resulted directly from performing their professional duties and not from elsewhere?As of May 14, 10,317 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the state, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Many of those cases involve police officers, firefighters, and medical personnel. Under this new directive, first responders no longer have to use their earned sick leave. Instead, they are eligible for workers’ compensation because the disease is now considered work-related.
How to Apply for Workers’ Compensation
To apply for workers’ compensation, follow these helpful tips:
- Let your employer know as soon as possible if you have contracted COVID-19 or if you need to quarantine. For cases unrelated to the coronavirus, you must inform your employer of any illness or injury you sustained while on the job within 30 days.
- Under the law, your employer must notify their insurer and the Division of Workers’ Compensation Insurance. The insurance company will review the details of your case to determine whether or not you are eligible to receive benefits. The April 7 announcement states that COVID-19 infections will now be covered by workers’ compensation.
- Get treatment for your injuries. Normally, you must use a healthcare provider that your employer chooses - otherwise, you could be on the hook to pay for medical services.
- Claim benefits. You may be entitled to receive benefits, including payments for lost wages and disability benefits. If you’re not receiving benefits you believe you are entitled to, you will need to file a compensation claim with the Division of Workers’ Compensation.
Contact a Reputable Missouri Workers’ Compensation Attorney for Assistance
If you have questions about workers’ compensation, consult an experienced attorney for answers. Our attorneys can investigate your case and guide you through the process of recovering the benefits you deserve. Contact our team at Morrison, Webster & Carlton today at 417-890-4600 (Springfield office) or 417-781-5690 (Joplin office). You can also send a message to us directly by contacting us online now.