As the sweep of COVID-19 makes its way across Arizona, healthcare and front line workers face increased risk of exposure to the virus, which has killed nearly 4,000 Americans as of March 31. In Arizona, about 1,300 cases have been confirmed, along with 24 deaths. However, the worst is likely yet to come as top scientific and medical experts say death toll in the United States alone could range from 100,000 to as many as 240,000.
Arizona’s occupational disease statute for workers’ compensation requires six elements that must be met for a compensable workers’ compensation claim, which can be more challenging than the typical claim. However, if the employment places the employee in an increased risk of harm from a contagious disease and the employee tests positive for COVID-19, then the employee may have a workers’ compensation claim.
As with most workers’ compensation cases, whether a claim is compensable depends on a case-by-case analysis. Factors to weigh include nature of employment, evidence demonstrating increased exposure, and evidence of near exclusive exposure to COVID-19 from the work environment since “social-distancing” orders from mayors and the governor.
If you are a healthcare worker, first responder or other front line worker who tests positive for COVID-19, we encourage you to consult a workers’ compensation attorney to evaluate your claim.