The general answer is yes, and the employee’s burden of proof to establish a workers’ compensation claim was just reduced for first responders, including Corrections Officers, who work at Minnesota’s 11 correctional facilities.
Typically, to be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for an occupational disease, Minnesota workers must prove that that their condition arose out of their employment and occurred in the course of their employment. However, Minnesota now has COVID-19 legislation that creates a presumption that a first responder’s COVID-19 condition arose out of and occurred in the course and scope of employment.
What types of benefits would a corrections officer be entitled to?
Workers’ compensation benefits may include medical treatment, wage loss, vocational rehabilitation, and permanency. If, unfortunately, an employee dies due to COVID-19, then his/her dependents may also be entitled to death and dependency benefits.
Who else is entitled to this new presumption as a “first responder”?
The newly revised legislation covers licensed peace officers, firefighters, paramedics, nurses, health care workers, correctional officers, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and many long-term care facility workers. The presumption also covers workers required to provide child care to first responders and health care workers.
What are next steps for a Corrections Officer with COVID-19?
- Step 1: Contact your doctor – If you believe that you have COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, call your doctor and request further direction. Do not go to an emergency room.
- Step 2: Self-Quarantine – Minimize your contact with others and do not go to work.
- Step 3: Request a COVID-19 test from your medical provider – Request a test to confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis. If no test is available, ask your doctor to document in your medical records that a test was not available, but that your doctor diagnosed you with COVID-19 based on your symptoms. Then, obtain a copy of the written diagnosis from your doctor.
- Step 4: If you have COVID-19, inform your employer and provide them with a doctor’s note confirming your written diagnosis – Once notified, the employer must file a first report of injury with its workers’ compensation insurer or claim administrator. The insurer or claim administrator must inform the employee within 14 days whether the workers’ compensation claim is accepted or denied.
If you are a Minnesota first responder suffering from COVID-19, Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, P.A. can help you understand your rights. The knowledgeable attorneys at Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, P.A. will help you navigate the system and help you obtain access to a variety of resources and benefits with compassionate, expert legal counsel. Contact us at 1-877-746-5680 for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation.