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Am I Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits? Q&A for New York Frontline Healthcare Workers

A frontline healthcare worker tends to a patient during the COVID-19 pandemic

If you are a frontline healthcare worker, chances are you or one of your co-workers became ill and were unable to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 78,000 of these essential workers across the U.S. have contracted the coronavirus so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many have been left to pay household and medical expenses while at home fighting the virus. How will they pay their bills if they can’t work?

“New York State law protects these frontline healthcare workers,” said John Dalli, a partner in the law firm Dalli & Marino, LLP. “If essential staff members contract the coronavirus at their job site, they can receive financial assistance from their employers’ workers’ compensation insurance.”

The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board has issued an in-depth Q&A on these benefits and how to apply:

Can I receive workers’ compensation benefits if I get COVID-19 while working?

Yes. Depending on the facts, you may receive workers’ compensation benefits in New York State due to COVID-19 exposure. Employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance to pay benefits to workers who are made ill or injured due to their employment. This is known as a work-related illness or injury. Immigration status is not a factor.

For over a century, the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board has responded to outbreaks and chronic injuries by ensuring that claims are handled quickly and benefits are paid promptly. From diseases like tuberculosis and asbestosis, to the tragedy of 9/11, and to the opioid crisis, the Board has always risen to meet the needs of injured workers across the state. COVID-19 is no exception.

What benefits are available?

The Worker’s Compensation Law provides for:

  • Payment of an injured worker’s medical treatment for a work-related illness or injury
  • Wage replacement benefits if your illness prevents you from working
  • Benefits to an employee’s surviving dependents in the event of a death
  • Reimbursement of funeral expenses up to $12,500 in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, and Westchester Counties.

Which work environments are more likely to result in COVID-19 claims?

Individuals who work where exposure risks are significantly higher are more likely to have compensable COVID-19 claims. Some employees are working closely with the public in locations where COVID-19 exposure is documented. This includes healthcare workers, first responders, transportation workers, corrections officers, and food service workers. Some workers may also have work-related claims if they directly interact with the public while working, such as retail workers.

What information is needed to show that a COVID-19 claim is work-related?

Most workers will never be able to point to the moment of method of exposure to COVID-19, but workers can validate the significantly elevated risk in their workplace by demonstrating the nature and extent of their work in an environment where exposure to the coronavirus was prevalent.

You should provide details about where you work, how often you work, and the type of job duties you perform, especially those involving contact with the public. You need to have a medical report, from an authorized workers’ compensation medical provider, stating your work caused your illness. A positive test result is best, but a medical report, showing a diagnosis via PCR test, or by virtue of an examination by a treating physician, may be used.

For more on how to file a claim and how long it takes to receive benefits, go to You can also call the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board at (800) 580-6665 or email at AdvInjWkr@wcb.ny.go.

If you are a frontline healthcare worker and have questions about your employer’s liability during COVID-19, please call our offices for a free confidential conversation. Learn more on the Dalli & Marino COVID-19 Frontline Workers Compensation page.

Contact Dalli & Marino LLP

John Dalli, Salvatore Marino, and Jeanne RamassoDalli & Marino, LLP has been providing top-tier representation, and we have recovered millions of dollars, for families in cases of nursing home and other skilled care/elder care facility neglect and results of understaffing, in Suffolk and Nassau Counties (Long Island), Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, and Westchester County, since 1996.

Please contact our team to discuss your case, or with any questions, at 1-888-465-8790 [Toll-Free], or by completing the CASE EVALUATION Form on our Contact Page.

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