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Is COVID-19 an Occupational Illness in Maryland?

While you can try to file a COVID-19-related claim for workers’ compensation in Maryland, it probably won’t be approved. Maryland has special definitions for occupational diseases in § 9-502 of the state Workers’ Compensation Act. Because COVID-19 does not match the language of this law, employers and insurers are unlikely to payout COVID-19-related claims.

Hard-to-Prove Claims

Another challenge for those hoping for workers’ comp in the face of COVID-19 is difficulty proving where and how you contracted the virus. Under Maryland law, your illness must have arisen “out of and in the course of employment” to be eligible for workers’ compensation. If you cannot link your exposure to COVID-19 directly to your workplace activities, your employer and workers’ comp insurer can deny your claim.

Exceptions

For some individuals, proving a link between employment and a COVID-19 diagnosis may be easier. A first responder or medical worker, for instance, can cite their illness as a result of working with an infected patient. Many states have special presumptions for first responders and other essential workers. Although Maryland does not explicitly presume COVID-19 is a workplace illness for first responders, they may be more likely to approve this type of claim.

Who Decides Whether or Not My Claim Gets Approved?

If you submit a claim for workers’ compensation, your employer must take it seriously. They should escalate your claim to their insurance provider and let you know whether your claim has been approved or denied.

You should also file a claim with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. If you feel your claim was unfairly denied, you can request a hearing with the Commission.

Ultimately, the Commission will decide whether or not you are entitled to benefits.

Should I Get a Lawyer?

During a hearing with the Workers’ Compensation Commission, you may want an attorney to represent your rights and interests. Most lawyers will only accept your claim if they feel it has a strong chance of being approved, and workers’ comp attorneys do not get paid unless you receive benefits.

If you are unsure whether your COVID-19-related claim will be approved, talking to a lawyer is an excellent place to start.

You can schedule a free consultation with the Law Office of Robert Castro, P.A. at (301) 870-1200 or online.

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