On March 7, 2020, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued Executive Order 202, declaring a disaster emergency within the state in response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak posing a threat to the health and welfare of its citizens. With information continuously developing around COVID-19, federal and state legislators have implemented strict guidelines for organizations, business owners and employees.
Contracting the Virus During Line of Work
By taking precautions, some businesses are asked to close while other companies are continuing operations having employees report to work or allow them to work from home. It is the responsibility of the employer to communicate and enforce the proper protocol on the safety of their staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. To view the most updated federal and state employer guidelines, visit https://www.health.ny.gov.
Those employees on the front line of possibly contracting the virus due to the natural consequences of their job (healthcare workers, first responders, etc.), may be covered by workers’ compensation statutes. If the employee can provide facts that they contracted the virus as a result of their employment, it certainly can be considered a worker-related condition.
Guidance for Ongoing Workers’ Compensation Cases
In line with recommendations of the NYS Governor and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a preventative tool that is suggested across the nation is social distancing. Social distancing refers to taking protective measures of canceling public events and reducing the gathering of popular areas due to the public health and safety of a community. The reasoning for these cancellations is to assist in stopping or slowing down the spread of the disease which allows the health care systems to care for patients more readily throughout COVID-19. The NYS Workers’ Compensation Board (Board) addresses the following subjects to guide and assist those that have ongoing workers’ compensation claims during this pandemic:
- Hearings held online, requiring remote attendance
- Deadline for medical evidence (90-day requirement) may be excused by a WCLJ on a case by case basis
- Defining various circumstances for attending an Independent Medical Examination (IME)
- IME requirements for scheduling within 30-days and filing the C-4Auth form (doctor’s request for authorization and insurer’s response document) and may be excused
- Deadline for other IMEs directed to be completed by the Board may be excused and extended. Examples of other IMEs can include permanency exams and in controverted claims
- Limited availability for off-calendar depositions of medical witnesses
- Filing of appeals and rebuttals timely
- Contacting the Bureau of Compliance for all COVID-19 related applications
- Payor compliance strict timeline for filing documents
To learn more or subscribe to receive the Board’s notifications, visit http://www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/TheBoard/WCB-Response-COVID-19.jsp.
If you have questions about your rights in the workplace or if you believe your employment protections have been violated, let our team help you during these challenging times. We know how important it is to remain flexible to your individual needs. If you would prefer to meet with us via phone, Facetime or video, call one of our offices to make arrangements.
Buffalo: 716-684-COMP (2662)
NYC: 212-624-COMP (2662)
Rochester: 585-262-COMP (2662)