Traditional workers’ compensation laws say that employers must provide a workers’ compensation insurance plan to their employees. This includes workers in almost every industry, regardless of their age, health, or time spent on the job. These plans provide free medical care to people who suffer injuries or illnesses connected to doing their jobs. They can also provide income assistance if an illness or injury keeps them away from work for any significant period of time or if an incident results in a permanent disability.
However, much like in the rest of the world, the core concepts behind workers’ compensation have needed to evolve in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people feel that the risks involved in visiting a hospital or doctor’s office are not worth risking potential exposure to the virus. These feelings are understandable but do interfere with the normal processes involved in treating workplace injuries or illnesses. In fact, a failure to attend regular doctor appointments is a leading cause of denied claims.
In addition, controversy has arisen concerning the right to claim workers’ compensation benefits when a worker contracts the disease in the workplace. The law is still evolving in these areas, but a Bucks County, PA, personal injury lawyer may be able to help. An attorney could provide more information about workers’ compensation in general and how the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing challenges to workers and insurers alike.
The Global Health Crisis is Hampering Traditional Workers’ Compensation Procedures
The spread of COVID-19 throughout Bucks County and the rest of the Commonwealth has forced every person to adapt. For many, this means that they can perform their jobs from the relative comfort and safety of their homes. However, many essential workers have found that their jobs have carried on in much the same way as before. Even so, most people recognize the threats posed by COVID-19 to even otherwise healthy workers.
One noted impact is the reduction in people visiting doctors’ offices and hospitals. In an article published on December 18, 2020, in Business Insurance, the author notes that this trend has expanded into medical providers offering care to workers’ compensation claimants. The article states that there is a current shortage of primary care physicians as well as delays for those already seeking treatment. Additionally, many systems designed to bring swift care to patients have undergone increased automation and telehealth visits.
These factors combine to see many workers’ compensation employees missing vital visits with doctors and therapists. These people may delay seeking care in an attempt to avoid contracting COVID-19 or avoid contact altogether. These behavioral patterns can negatively impact both a person’s health and their chances of receiving proper workers’ compensation benefits.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Seen a Rise in Mental Health Afflictions
The most obvious impact that exposure to COVID-19 can have on a person’s physical health is obvious. Respiratory problems, cardiovascular symptoms, and other complications can result in severe illness or even death.
However, Business Insurance states that the mental stresses of dealing with the mere threat of COVID-19 are affecting thousands of workers. Showing up to work every day is already a stressful activity. The idea that any customer or coworker may be carrying the virus without even knowing it is placing employees under significant mental strain.
Mental health concerns connected to performing one’s job are just as valid a reason to seek workers’ compensation benefits as physical injuries or illnesses. Whether or not workers’ compensation insurance companies will provide benefits due to the emotional toll of dealing with COVID-19 remains an ongoing question. A Bucks County personal injury attorney continues to gather information about this developing situation.
Adapting to the New Reality Concerning Workers’ Compensation and the COVID-19 Crisis
People seeking benefits under a workers’ compensation insurance plan need to take an active role in fulfilling their obligations during this process. Merely notifying a supervisor that an injury or illness has occurred is insufficient to obtain benefits.
It is necessary to be able to connect a condition to time spent on the job. Whether this condition is the contracting of COVID-19, emotional strain due to potential exposure, or an unrelated injury or illness, a doctor’s notes connecting this condition to doing one’s job is an essential piece of evidence.
Unfortunately, the Business Insurance article indicating a lack of available medical care threatens to derail many employees’ legitimate claims for compensation. Few experiences are more frustrating or demoralizing than realizing that you need medical care and being unable to obtain it. The current shortage of available physicians can make this nightmare a reality.
At the same time, many people are intentionally avoiding visiting doctors’ offices or therapists to adhere to suggested social distancing protocols. While this may be advisable to avoid COVID-19, it does deprive people of necessary care to make their best recovery from a workplace injury and to properly document their claims for compensation. A Bucks County personal injury lawyer can provide more information about the requirements to visit medical providers during ongoing workers’ compensation claims.
The COVID-19 Crisis Has Brought Significant Changes to Workers’ Compensation Claims
It is impossible to deny the monumental impact that COVID-19 has had on many peoples’ workplace experiences. Even so, most people must continue to do their jobs as before. This includes exposure to the same workplace hazards with the added risk of potential exposure from coworkers and customers.
Sadly, the impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare field has made it difficult, if not impossible, to receive treatment after suffering a workplace injury or illness. A current shortage in doctor appointments combines with many peoples’ hesitation to seek care has played havoc with the workers’ compensation processes. These processes require people to seek continued care from the time of injury until their full recovery. As a result, insurance companies have denied claims based on this inability to receive treatment.
A Bucks County personal injury lawyer may be able to help answer your questions concerning COVID-19 and workers’ compensation. This includes the requirements to see medical providers, whether contracting COVID-19 can be a reason to seek benefits, and how mental health concerns impact potential claims.