Minnesota Enacts New Law to Expand Workers’ Compensation Protections for Coronavirus Infections
While debate continues in South Carolina as to whether to expand workers’ compensation protections for first responders and healthcare workers battling COVID-19, the Minnesota legislature took action this week passing a bill to expand workers’ compensation protections in their state. Avoiding hurdles that may still exist to proving a workers’ compensation claim for coronavirus injuries in South Carolina, the Minnesota bill will create a presumption that healthcare workers, firefighters, EMTs, law enforcement, and childcare workers contracted COVID-19 at work. The Minnesota bill places the burden on employers to prove that those workers did not contract the coronavirus at work. By creating that presumption, the Minnesota bill will make it much easier for healthcare workers and others in Minnesota sickened by the coronavirus to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. As applicable in South Carolina as in Minnesota, the leader of the Minnesota House of Representatives said the change in the law was necessary because healthcare workers need to be able to serve the public and fight the pandemic without fears of financial ruin from contracting the coronavirus.
The Steinberg Law Firm has a long history, nearly 100 years, of pushing to expand workers’ compensation protections for South Carolina’s workers, and we support any effort by lawmakers to expand South Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws. Our firm’s lawyers recently provided assistance to South Carolina legislators drafting potential new laws to expand workers’ compensation laws for the coronavirus. However, while South Carolina’s current workers’ compensation laws do not provide the level of protection provided by Minnesota’s new law and while workers’ compensation claims for diseases contracted at work can be more difficult than other claims, the Steinberg Law Firm has been successful pursuing workers’ compensation claims for communicable diseases like Hepatitis-C and Legionnaire’s disease. Given the increased risk of contracting COVID-19 faced by South Carolina’s healthcare workers battling this pandemic, we believe coronavirus infections are covered by South Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws.