First Responders, Covid19 Healthcare Providers, Firefighters, Paramedics, Law Enforcement
Chapter 112 of the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act offers special statutory protection to first responders, including police officers, health workers, firefighters, correctional officers, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians. This chapter makes it easier for first responders to prove that diseases such as a COVID-19 infection are a work-related medical condition.
The Florida CFO, Jimmy Patronis, also recently ordered a state agency, the Division of Risk Management, to relax its restrictions and review and process claims from first responders who tested positive for COVID-19.
According to this directive, the Division of Risk Management, which handles compensation insurance for state workers, should presume that patients who filed the claims contracted COVID-19 on the job.
Current Legal Rights of First Responders
First responders or healthcare workers in Florida who test positive for COVID-19 in Florida have several legal rights:
A first responder or public health worker who tests positive for COVID-19 has a legal right to receive complete medical care. Compensation should cover all reasonable and necessary medical treatment of the infection and symptoms as well as any secondary health conditions that may hinder the patient's recovery.
Patients have a legal right to access medical care without co-payment or out-of-pocket expense in terms of the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act. Covering medical care is not a group health responsibility unless there is a legitimate basis for the denial of coverage.
A frontline worker who contracted the COVID-19 virus has the legal right to receive all medication that is necessary to treat the infection without cost or out-of-pocket expense. Additionally, individuals have the legal right to choose any pharmacy to fill the prescriptions they need.
A first responder or healthcare worker who tests positive for COVID-19 and has to stay under quarantine or receive medical treatment has the right to receive lost wages, according to the Workers’ Compensation Act. Additionally, frontline workers may not be forced to use vacation time, sick leave, or any other type of blanket leave time while they are under quarantine or receiving medical care as patients.
A first responder is legally eligible to receive non-taxable lost wage compensation for the duration of a disability that resulted from a COVID-19 infection or related secondary condition.
Permanent Impairment Benefits
First responders, such as law enforcement officials, healthcare providers, and paramedics, who contract a COVID infection may have the legal right to receive non-taxable permanent impairment benefits if the disease resulted in whole-body impairment.
Bichler & Longo Remains Open for Business
If the COVID-19 outbreak has affected you as a first responder, you might be tempted to file a worker’s compensation claim on your own. However, an insurance company will not provide you with all the information you need and the benefits that are available to you under Florida law, unless you or your attorney makes a specific request.
Additionally, the Florida CFO’s order is an acknowledgment that the state will presume a COVID-19 contraction in the course of employment. Still, the directive doesn’t mandate other public and private employers to do the same.
If you want to file a workers’ compensation claim for medical care, lost wages, or permanent impairment as the result of coronavirus infection, it is critical for persons to retain counsel to gain legal information and represent your interests.
Bichler & Longo can assist you with an occupational injury claim. During this time, we continue to provide clients with legal representation and information to ensure they suffer no losses as the result of coronavirus exposure on the job.
Our legal team is dedicated to helping clients like you face the unique challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit our home page for more information or Contact Us today to schedule a free evaluation of your case.