COVID-19 has caught the entire planet off guard. The speed with which this deadly disease has spread across the globe is truly unprecedented. And, as is the way with much of the inner workings of the law, the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures and legislation to deal with those affected by the disease has been slow and often maddeningly chaotic. It is extremely difficult to keep up with the changes because they are unfolding almost by the minute.
And so it is with Worker’s Compensation law. The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act was drafted with the idea that it would help protect workers when they were injured on the job because of a job related to their daily duties. Generally an accident. Thus far, this has not been expanded to include disease contracted on the job unless it was a disease brought on by the tasks involved in the job itself. Because COVID-19 is a pandemic, so far it has not been deemed the responsibility of the employer to cover an employee from COVID-19 itself.
To explain this further, North Carolina is not a “positional risk” jurisdiction. This means that to file a claim, the employee needs to demonstrate that the injury is an “injury by accident” or an “occupational disease” (a disease linked to a specific type of business). An employee would need to show “causation” which at this time is quite unlikely.
That being said, we are in an ever-changing situation. You can rest assured that we will continue to monitor the situation so that we can provide the best, most up-to-date information possible.