Many people who contract COVID-19 make a full recovery within a week or even days of getting sick. Some experience no symptoms at all. But many will not be so lucky. In approximately 10 percent of COVID-19 cases, patients experience symptoms past twelve weeks. If this occurs, the patient is diagnosed with long COVID.
Healthy patients of any age are at risk of long-term chronic illness even with mild COVID-19. Symptoms of COVID-19 can persist for months or even years following infection. How does workers’ compensation work in cases of long COVID?
How long COVID can make nine-to-five work impossible
COVID-19 becomes long COVID after twelve weeks, with chronic symptoms that can be debilitating for a working-age adult. Each patient experiences long COVID differently, but some symptoms impact an employee’s ability to work more than others. Many long COVID cases involve respiratory problems, cognitive impairment, and anxiety.
Memory and cognitive function are commonly affected by long COVID. Functioning at work can be impossible when suffering from memory loss or brain fog. Long-term memory recall, problem-solving skills, and short-term memory loss are symptoms. Cognitive difficulties can cripple an employee’s ability to function at work.
Long COVID is also commonly associated with chronic fatigue. Employees feel tired at their desks and struggle to be effective. Chronic fatigue can render an otherwise healthy adult completely bedridden.
Pain can persist long beyond the initial symptoms of COVID-19 as well. Joint and muscle pain and headaches are common symptoms of long COVID. Pain can make both physical labor and desk work incredibly difficult, if not impossible.
People suffering from long COVID deserve a dignified existence. How does workers’ compensation support them?
Challenges associated with long COVID-related workers’ comp
The chance of experiencing long COVID is highest in patients who experienced severe symptoms. But people who experienced only more mild symptoms can still suffer from long COVID, and people who experienced no symptoms of COVID-19 can later suffer debilitating long COVID symptoms. Workers’ compensation claims are complicated, but the claim becomes even harder to prove when a patient waits weeks or months to make compensation claims (because their early symptoms were mild).
Long COVID cases can last weeks, months, or even years. Some cases may be more debilitating than others, and doctors are unsure of the cause. The ongoing uncertainty of long COVID sufferers is another factor in making insurance claims difficult.
Legally, long COVID case status is fluctuating. Only twenty-eight states (and Puerto Rico) have passed laws to ensure workers’ compensation benefits include long COVID. Even then, coverage in many of these states is still conditional, and some executive orders may have expired already. Government bodies often react slowly to new health and insurance challenges, making insurance coverage for long-COVID sufferers complicated, behind the times, and often uncertain.
Tips for long-COVID sufferers who need support
If you contracted the virus at work, your best method of ensuring support is to submit a claim as soon as you test positive. Employers may be flexible about work duties or working from home. Keep in touch with your employer and negotiate lighter duties as necessary.
Take advantage of internal COVID-19 sick pay benefits, which will reduce lost wages while workers’ compensation claims are investigated. Make sure you’re aware of all benefits offered by your employer, and be sure to take advantage of them — workers’ benefits are there to be used.
In the end, people seeking long COVID compensation should be aware that multiple specialists will need to evaluate their case. Wait times for these services may be long, further slowing down compensation.
When a lawyer can help
An attorney can help you understand your options and will know the variable coverage laws in different states. An attorney will clarify what benefits are available to you.
A workers’ compensation attorney is skilled in handling worker’s compensation claims complications. An attorney can advocate for you if a worker’s compensation claim is made late or challenged. Also, an attorney will help clarify your next steps and how to handle the challenges in your case.
Find an experienced employment law attorney you can trust. Contact LegalASAP today for a free evaluation of your case.