Workers' Compensation COVID Guide - 2020 -


1. Would a claim for COVID-19 be considered a compensable occupational disease injury under the Workers’ Compensation Act?

Yes, if causation were supported by lay and medical proof.

2. What is the jurisdictional rationale that makes the claim compensable? Provide all rules that would apply to make the claim compensable.

The standard for compensability is whether or not the employment causes or contributes to the condition for which compensation is sought. §71-3-3(b). Every claim is driven by its individual facts.

3. If the employee is directed by the employer to quarantine due to possible exposure at work (and the employer is continuing full salary for 14 days), does the employer’s direction make the claim compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act?

It’s doubtful that the employer’s direction alone would make it a compensable workers’ comp claim, although I can’t speak to any related employment issues. The question of comp compensability will be determined by the medical proof and the particular facts of each individual claim.

4. Are “first responders” considered at greater risk than the general public under the Workers’ Compensation Act?

You are still left with medical and factual proof as the determiners; however, the greater risk of exposure would effectively be compelling proof.

5. Is “Pharmacy” considered a first responder under the Workers’ Compensation Act?

I don’t know that a pharmacy would be specifically designated as a first responder, although it is reasonable to assume that practically they would be treated like one given the current situation.

6. Is the state calling for legislation that would eliminate the burden of proof for workers making a COVID-19 occupational disease claim? If so, please provide summary of what is being proposed.

I’m not aware of Mississippi legislation to change the burden of proof.

7. Has the state governor issued an executive order allowing for COVID-19 cases compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act? If so, please provide copy of the executive order.

I’m not aware of any executive order directing such claims be treated as compensable irrespective of the facts of the case.

8. If COVID-19 claims are compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act, is the waiting period waived?

I’m not aware of any change to the waiting period.

9. If the claim is compensable under the Workers’ Compensations Act and the employer pays the employee their full salary for the first two weeks during quarantine, how does this affect the TTD benefits?

If the claim is compensable, and claimant receives from the employer full salary for 2 weeks, assuming that the salary is equal to or greater than the claimant’s AWW for the previous 52 weeks, you would not owe TTD for those two weeks. If it is less than the 52 week AWW, the employer would owe TPD.

10. Can the TTD benefits start be delayed if the employee’s disability extends beyond 14 days if the employee receives their full salary for the first two weeks?

If the claim be compensable, instatement of TTD should not be delayed.

11. Can the TTD benefits be offset by the full salary paid to the employee?

TTD is offset by the salary paid, although the analysis must be done on a week to week basis, as there is no carryover credit against the next week’s TTD obligation for an overpayment. Also, if the full salary paid is less than claimant’s 52 week AWW, you would owe TPD based on the differential.