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SHOULD WE EXPECT A HUGE NUMBER OF WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COVID-19 CASES SOONER OR LATER?

Posted by Thomas Brown | May 08, 2020 | 0 Comments

Here is a very real hypothetical situation that I would try to classify as a Georgia workers' compensation injury claim. 

  • A registered nurse works at an ER of a local, Atlanta metro, hospital.
  • The hospital treats a huge number of COVID-19 cases.
  • The RN does not have access to proper hospital protective equipment including face masks, gloves, and PPE's.
  • The nurse contracts COVID-19.
  • The nurse self-quarantines but 10 days later is admitted to the hospital and is placed on a respirator.
  • The nurse is 45 years old. She has no lung, heart, or diabetes co-morbid medical issues.  She was in excellent health.
  • The nurse tragically dies, leaving a husband and two minor children, 10 and 12 years old.
  • The husband had not worked in six months and was totally dependent on his nurse/wife's income. 

QUESTION:  Is the father and/or the children entitled to workers' compensation benefits for her death as dependents? 

I believe there is a good case for the nurse's death to be classified as a job injury resulting in death and dependency.  One of the many questions is whether the disability/death resulted from a sudden occurrence rather than a gradual onset over years of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

 Most of the legal cases decided by the Court of Appeals in Georgia seem to agree that a prolonged exposure over the years, would be classified as an occupational disease.  But the suddenness of the disability/death would prevent this from being classified as an occupational disease.  Her case would be classified as an injury case.

About the Author

Thomas Brown

Attorney Thomas F. Brown, II has more than four decades of experience representing injured workers and helping them obtain the income benefits and medical treatment they need and deserve. Tom primarily practices in the workers' compensation area, representing injured workers exclusively. He also...

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