Coronavirus and a Remote Workforce: A Dual Review of Workers’ Compensation & Employment Law Concerns


SPECIAL EDITION | Coronavirus & Comp Updates

      • The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have caused many changes in how we work in Virginia.  Office workers and teachers are some of the many types of employees who have transitioned to working remotely because of Governor Northam’s Executive Orders closing schools and encouraging telework. With a large part of the workforce working remotely and/or from home, there are several issues for employers and carriers to consider.  

Workers’ Compensation Concerns

Arising Out Of

Added risks in the employee’s home workspace are likely to be “conditions of the work place” meeting the arising out of element of a workers’ compensation claim. 

Three Case Examples:

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Coronavirus, Nursing Homes and In-Home Care Providers

SPECIAL EDITION | Coronavirus & Comp Updates

      • Compensability and Burden of Proof

A nursing home employee or in-home health care professionals can prove a compensable coronavirus claim, by showing that their coronavirus diagnosis:

1. arose out of and in the course of the employment;

2. did not come from causes outside of work; and, 

3. that coronavirus is an infectious or contagious disease contracted in the course of employment in a nursing home or in the direct delivery of healthcare.

The second and third elements will likely be the most difficult to prove.  

Nursing Homes are at the Highest Risk of Being Affected

However, as COVID-19 spreads in the United States, confirmed cases in nursing homes and long-term care facilities have continued to rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) has indicated that nursing homes are at the highest risk of being

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All COVID-19 Related Updates From The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (VWC) and More

SPECIAL EDITION | Coronavirus & Comp Updates

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Coronavirus and Workers' Compensation in Virginia - Part 4: Presumption Claims and the Unknown Effects of Coronavirus

SPECIAL EDITION | Coronavirus & Comp Updates

Read the full 4-part Workers’ Comp and COVID-19 Update.

At this point, the full impact of the coronavirus is unknown.  The American College of Cardiology’s website states that “the specific effects of COVID-19 on the cardiovascular system remain unclear, although there have been reports of acute cardiac injury, hypotension, tachycardia, and a high proportion of concomitant cardiovascular disease in infected individuals…we’re all

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Cornavirus and Workers' Compensation in Virginia - Part 3: First Responder Presumption Cases

SPECIAL EDITION | Coronavirus & Comp Updates

Read the full 4-part Workers’ Comp and COVID-19 Update.

Va. Code §65.2-402 provides first responders with a presumption that respiratory and heart diseases, as well as certain other medical conditions, are compensable.  If the Commission analyzes a coronavirus claim under this code, could it find in the claimant’s favor?

Va. Code §65.2-402 provides first responders with a presumption that respiratory and heart diseases, as well as certain other medical conditions, are compensable.  To defeat the claim, the defendants must show that the claimant’s disease was not caused by the employment and that a non-work-related cause of the disease existed.  If the Commission analyzes a coronavirus claim under Va. Code §65.2-402, it may well find in the claimant’s favor, depending upon how the coronavirus is ultimately found to effect other health conditions.   

A Claim Involving Virally Induced Heart Disease in a Police Officer

The claimant in Town of Purcellville Police v. Bromser-Kloeden, 35 Va. App. 252 (2001) was a police officer seeking workers’ compensation benefits for virally induced heart disease.  The defendants argued that the claimant’s condition did not qualify as an occupational disease

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Cornavirus and Workers' Compensation in Virginia - Part 2: Similarities with a Tuberculosis Case

SPECIAL EDITION | Coronavirus & Comp Updates

Read the full 4-part Workers’ Comp and COVID-19 Update.

The Court of Appeals of Virginia considered whether a claimant’s tuberculosis was a compensable ordinary disease of life. Will the Court’s analysis be instructive in evaluating coronavirus claims that will inevitably be filed in the coming months?

In Lindenfeld v. City of Richmond Sheriff’s Office, 25 Va. App 775 (1997), the Court of Appeals of Virginia considered whether a claimant’s tuberculosis was a compensable ordinary disease of life and the Court’s analysis may be instructive in evaluating the coronavirus claims that will inevitably be filed in the coming months.  Tuberculosis spreads from person to person through microscopic droplets released into the air when a person with active tuberculosis coughs, speaks, sneezes, spits, laughs, or sings.[1]  Much like tuberculosis, the World Health Organization has suggested that coronavirus can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth when an infected person coughs or exhales.[2] 

The claimant in Lindenfeld, was a deputy sheriff in a jail containing inmates with active and

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Cornavirus and Workers' Compensation in Virginia - Part I: A ‘Disease’

SPECIAL EDITION | Coronavirus & Comp Updates

Read the full 4-part Workers’ Comp and COVID-19 Update.

Under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) will likely be treated as a “disease.”  In Virginia, a disease may be compensable under the Act if it is an occupational disease or an ordinary disease of life. 

Necessity of a Diagnosis

Regardless of whether coronavirus is pursued as either an occupational disease or an ordinary disease of life, the claimant must first prove that they are actually suffering from a “disease” and will likely need to establish this with a confirmed diagnosis of coronavirus to successfully meet their burden of proof.  Mere exposure or symptoms consistent with coronavirus, absent a diagnosis, will not likely be enough.  However, this does not

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