As the novel coronavirus has continued to spread in the State of Delaware, we thought it would be important to share information concerning work injury and COVID-19.

On March 13, 2020, Governor John Carney declared a State of Emergency and has since issued nine modifications to that order as of April 3, 2020. An illness or disease that a worker gets from exposure at work can be considered a work injury or an occupational disease. Delaware’s worker’s compensation system provides for certain benefits to workers that are injured or contract an occupational disease while working in the course and scope of employment.

Generally, we think of an occupational disease from work that occur in specific jobs or industries. Workers have be compensated for occupational diseases including: lung disease, radiating illness, skin diseases, lead poisoning, and carpal tunnel syndrome. In the coming months, we may see workers bringing worker’s compensation claims after contracting COVID-19 at work.

Exposure to COVID-19, which resulted in the illness, would likely be considered a work injury, but could also be an occupational disease depending on the type of work performed as well. At this time, we are not aware of any claims being filed with the Delaware Industrial Accident Board from exposure to COVID-19 at work.

If you have been exposed to COVID-19 at work or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 that you believe is related to your job, you need to report your injury to your employer immediately.

Generally, workers’ compensation will cover lost time from work, at a weekly rate equal to 2/3 of your average weekly wage (AWW) earned for the 26 weeks before your injury. Workers’ compensation will also cover 100% of medical expenses that are reasonable, necessary and causally related to the work injury. Wage loss benefits are available for as long as you are out of work due to the work related injury. There may be long term effects to exposure to COVID-19 that we are unaware of at this time. Those potential long term effects could lead to additional worker’s compensation benefits.

Again, you should report your illness to your employer immediately and inform them you want to file a workers’ compensation claim. Stay safe and remember to follow the CDC’s guidance on how to protect yourself from contracting COVID-19.

Pratcher Krayer has handled many workers’ compensation claims. We can be reached at (302) 803-5291 to answer any questions that you may have about work related injuries.