Missouri Department of Labor has just passed an Emergency Rule 8 CSR 50.5005 Presumption of Occupational Disease for First Responders, which will be in effect until January 2021. This law creates a presumption that if a First Responder contracts the coronavirus, it is presumed to have been caused by their work environment, and they are covered under Missouri Workers Compensation Law and entitled to Missouri Workers Compensation Benefits.
With regards to employees who do not fall into the First Responder employee category, they may still be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits with regards to COVID-19 under the Missouri Workers Compensation Occupational Disease Statute RSMO 287.067. Missouri defines an occupational disease as an identifiable disease arising with or without human fault out of and in the course of the employment. While these employees do not have the presumption that COVID-19 was contracted through work, they do not have to prove specifically where or how they contracted the disease. They can satisfy the burden if a medical expert can testify that the employee has a higher probability due to his or her working conditions to be exposed to and contracted COVID-19, they may be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits under Missouri Law.
Additionally, our knowledge of the COVID-19 disease is increasing daily, and the long term effects for specific individuals are currently under examination. This will certainly lead to more claims for permanent partial disability with regards to COVID-19 both for physical injuries and mental injuries.
If you feel you have a worker’s compensation claim regarding the coronavirus, please feel free to call our office to discuss further or fill out a contact form online today.