How COVID-19 Affects Workers’ Compensation Claims 

Many employers in Texas closed temporarily during the stay-at-home orders issued in March, leading to many employees working from home. At the same time, many businesses classified as “essential” remained open during the stay-home orders, continuing to employ workers. In the past weeks, Texas has begun opening up again, and many businesses have reopened and have welcomed employees back to the workplace. 

The coronavirus pandemic has not changed the fact that employees continue to sustain injuries while working, and that employers have certain duties when it comes to workers’ compensation claims in Texas. If you have questions about your responsibilities as an employer in terms of workers’ compensation coverage, you should seek advice from an employment lawyer in Dallas.

Seeking Compensation for COVID-19 Infections

It is possible that employees who test positive for COVID-19 will file workers’ compensation claims, arguing that they contracted the virus while at work. The Texas Department of Insurance provides guidance for employers, which includes information about providing personal protection equipment (PPE) and taking certain steps to be in compliance with the safe workplace standards recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Many workplaces will present the same risks of exposure to the coronavirus that the employee would face in the general public. In these situations, it will likely be difficult for the employee to prove that the infection occurred at work. However, in certain workplaces with heightened risks of exposure, a COVID-19 workers’ compensation claim may result in compensation for the worker. 

Injuries While Working From Home

Beyond COVID-19 infections, many employees are working from home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Employers should also be aware of the potential for work-from-home employees to file workers’ compensation claims for injuries that occur while they are working from home. Repetitive motions injuries may be common. Your employee will still need to be able to show that any injuries arose out of their employment in order to be eligible for compensation.

A few ways to minimize the success of such claims are to designate specific working areas within an employee’s home and designate specific working times.  By doing so, you can eliminate injuries that fall outside the course and scope of employment. 

Potential Delays in Processing Claims in Texas

While the Texas workers’ compensation system aims to continue processing workers’ compensation claims in a timely manner, one potential effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is that employee workers’ compensation claims could be delayed. If an employee contacts you to inquire about the status of a workers’ compensation claim, you will need to have evidence that you have provided all necessary information for the claim to move forward.  The employee can contact the Texas Department of Insurance as a next step.

Contact a Dallas Employment Law Attorney for More Information

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many employers in a situation where proper safety procedures and requirements are not always clear. Given that the coronavirus pandemic situation seems to shift daily with new scientific and research information, it is important for Texas employers to remain aware of both their rights and responsibilities when it comes to workers’ compensation and workplace safety. If you have questions about what you need to do as an employer in Texas, one of the experienced Dallas employment law attorneys at our firm can help. Contact Simon Paschal PLLC for more information.

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