COVID-19 Presumptions in Workers’ Compensation
Many states are extending workers’ compensation coverage to include first responders and health care workers impacted by COVID-19. This is being done through legislation, executive orders and amendments to the Worker’s Compensation statutes which often create a rebuttable presumption that for certain categories of workers COVID-19 infections are work-related and will be covered under workers’ compensation. This presumption places the burden on the employer and insurer to prove that the infection was not work-related. The burden of proof to rebut the presumption varies from state to state. New York, however, has amended its workers’ compensation statute to include COVID-19 related illnesses as compensable injuries.
Just as the burden of proof for rebuttal differs from state to state, the categories of workers falling under the presumption also differs. Some states like Alaska and Utah, limit the coverage to first responders and health care workers. Other states have taken a broader view – Illinois covers all essential workers and Wyoming covers all workers.
This environment is changing daily. On Monday, July 13th, Vermont joined the list of states establishing a rebuttable presumption. For a comprehensive and up to date state by state review visit this NCCI link