Workers Compensation for Covid Long-Haulers
With more than 32 million documented COVID-19 cases, almost 10 percent of the US population has contracted coronavirus, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
While many coronavirus patients recover within a few weeks or months, about 10% of individuals who contract COVID-19 suffer long-term damage to their lungs, heart, kidneys, or brain. These long-lasting symptoms as a result of the coronavirus infection are called “Post-COVID-19 Syndrome”.
“Post-acute Sequelae of COVID-19” is the medical term used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to refer to this condition officially. And in the media patients who suffer from long-term complications are simply referred to as “COVID-19 Long Haulers”.
Who are COVID-19 Long Haulers?
COVID-19 Long Haulers have recovered from COVID-19 in the sense that they have tested negative and are no longer a source of transmission for the virus. However, many continue to have symptoms that are either constant or recur weeks or months after they have originally recovered.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical professionals estimated that about 10 percent of COVID-19 patients had persistent symptoms. However, a study published in Lancet this month (August 2021) reported that nearly half of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 suffer at least one lingering symptom 1 year after discharge, according to the largest study ever examining the recovery of COVID-19 survivors.
The most common lingering symptoms of Long Haul COVID-19 are fatigue and muscle weakness. One third continue to have shortness of breath. In the study, at 12 months after COVID-19, survivors had more problems with mobility, pain or discomfort, and anxiety or depression. In rarer cases, according to the New Your Times, long-haul coronavirus patients have also reported long term hallucinations, delusions and paranoia, in a condition called “Post Covid Delirium”.
Long haulers syndrome due to COVID-19 is not a novel occurrence. For example, other viral infections – like Lyme disease – may cause symptoms to persist for months or even years after the original infection.
Long-term health issues following a COVID-19 diagnosis will likely affect workers compensation claims acceptance, management and disability indefinitely, experts say.
Under the catch-all phrase “long COVID,” symptoms include fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, joint or muscle pain, and difficulty concentrating. At least one study (see box) found 55 possible long-term effects of COVID-19.
Workers Compensation for Covid Long-Haulers
Collecting workers compensation for Long-Haul COVID is uncharted territory because of the newness of the situation, as well as the complicated nature of the disease. There really is no standard protocol for diagnosing Long-Haul COVID because the symptoms are so vast and varied from patient to patient.
According to the figures from the National Council on Compensation Insurance, which has been tracking COVID-19 workers compensation claims since the start of the pandemic, workers hurt by COVID-19 accounted for more than 45,000 workers comp claims in 2020.
The Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice provided guidance on long COVID last month (July 2021) specifically recognizing Long Haul COVID as disability — which is usually the threshold for an illness to be considered compensable under workers compensation.
Now that long-term health issues following a COVID-19 diagnosis is considered a disability by the federal government, it will likely increase the number of approved workers compensation claims, experts say.
COVID-19 Long Haul Workers Comp Attorneys
As always, our workers comp attorneys are keeping on top of the rapidly changing laws and legal guidelines pertaining to workers comp for the coronavirus – including compensation for Covid-19 Long Haulers.
If you were made ill in the workplace by Covid-19 – including experiencing “long-haul” lingering symptoms and side-effects – we recommend that you speak with an experienced workers’ comp attorney immediately to understand your rights in this fluid legal landscape.
An experienced workers compensation attorney can help make sure that you not only receive your benefits now, but for as long as you need them. This is especially important with an illness like Covid-19 which is now exhibiting many debilitating long-term health effects in many survivors.
Your consultation with our workers’ comp attorneys is 100% confidential, and neither your employer nor your insurance company will be notified that you requested a consultation with us. Our attorneys will help you understand your rights and work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the maximum workers’ comp benefits for which you qualify.