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Michael J. Doyle, Attorney At Law Michael J. Doyle, Attorney At Law
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Can Hospital Employees File a Workers’ Comp Claim If They Get COVID-19 at Work?

If you or a loved one work in a hospital or elsewhere in the healthcare industry, you may be wondering if you can receive workers’ compensation benefits should you come down with COVID-19 while on the job.

Fortunately, occupational illnesses are covered in virtually every workers' comp plan for medical workers. As long as you are employed in the healthcare field, your employer should already have workers’ compensation insurance in place that will cover illnesses contracted at work, including COVID-19.

Additionally, as has been deemed necessary in several other states since the pandemic’s outbreak, Governor Michelle Grisham has granted a presumption of cause regarding COVID-19 workers’ comp claims in New Mexico. This means that if you contract COVID-19 while working in a hospital or other high-risk place, you won’t have to go out of your way to prove causation.

By automatically allowing that it can be presumed that your COVID-19 infection came from work, the insurance company handling your claim doesn't have grounds to push back and demand proof that it actually came from your job. This takes the burden from sick employees, which can be a huge load off in these stressful times.

The presumption was granted in Executive Order 2020-025, which was signed on April 23, 2020. Of people who work in the healthcare industry, the order states that “…professionals who work in environments where direct care, assistance, or housing is provided to patients with COVID-19 are also exposed to the virus causing COVID-19 as a natural incident of their occupations and carry a far greater risk of contracting COVID-19 than the general public due to this significant and inevitable exposure in the workplace.” New Mexico courts have determined that the risks associated with COVID-19 qualify as an occupational illness under the workers’ comp system and therefore a presumption is granted to all who file claims related to the virus.

That said, even when a workers’ compensation claim is valid, there can still be hurdles to contend with. For example, your employer or their insurance company may be reluctant to pay out claims in order to protect their bottom line. In such cases, you might need to put some extra work into putting your claim together and fighting back. Otherwise, if you don’t have strong evidence in the form of medical records and other necessary documentation, or if you fill out your claim incorrectly or too late, it may be denied.

Ultimately, the success rate of filing COVID-19 and other workers’ comp claims can be quite varied and complex depending on each person’s individual circumstances, so it may be best to consult with a lawyer. A lawyer can help on many fronts, such as ensuring your claim is done correctly, investigating and collecting evidence that supports it, and appealing claims that have been wrongfully denied.

Hospital workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 on the job should consider seeking the guidance of an experienced New Mexico workers' compensation lawyer who can advise them of their legal rights and represent them in hearings if needed.

For additional information about filing a workers’ compensation claim, visit the State of New Mexico Workers’ Compensation website here.

Have you or a loved one contracted an occupational illness while working? You may be able to file for workers’ compensation in New Mexico. Our Albuquerque workers’ compensation lawyer can help with your claim from start to finish. Contact us today for a free consultation—we would be happy to answer your questions!