The pandemic caused by the COVID-19 disease is impacting how we work. Employees who develop COVID-19 (coronavirus) while in the performance of their work in the District of Columbia maybe entitled to D.C. workers’ compensation benefits. Benefits include medical care and lost wages.
It is difficult to determine the precise moment and method of infection. When an employee claims workers compensation benefits due to COVID-19, the D.C. workers compensation law may presume exposure occurred at work for those workers who are required to have in-person interactions with the public – such as bus drivers, grocery workers, nurses, and public health personnel. The law should consider those workers to be in high-risk employment, thereby triggering the presumption that the disease arose out of and in the course of employment. We expect the law will recognize that a higher likelihood exists of infection due to high-risk employment. Workers in such positions encounter circumstances that will lead to infection by contact with sneezes, droplet infection, bodily secretions, and surfaces on which the COVID-19 virus may reside.