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HKQ Firm News

Workers’ Compensation and Coronavirus

Coronavirus (officially COVID-19) continues to create new and difficult issues in all aspects of American life. The risk of community spread makes it likely that some workers will contract the virus as a result of exposure at their place of employment or as part of their job. Also,  workers with limitations caused by injuries unrelated to COVID-19 may find themselves unemployed because of the economic effects of the Coronavirus or precautions put in place to stem the spread of the virus. Depending on the specific circumstances, these infected and/or injured workers may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits.

If the disease was caused as a result of employment, the infected worker has sustained a compensable injury, entitling them to wage loss and medical benefits. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act has long recognized that diseases contracted at work are compensable. A separate law, known as the Occupational Disease Act, lists certain diseases for which there is a rebuttable presumption that the disease was contracted at work. For example, a health care worker who contracts hepatitis or a coal miner who contracts black lung is entitled to a presumption that the disease is work related. In these cases, the relationship between the disease and the employment is presumed by law and individuals are almost always entitled to benefits.

Given the novel nature of the Coronavirus, it is not listed as an enumerated disease. Certain occupations, such as healthcare workers, may be able to obtain a presumption that the disease is related by establishing that the incidence of the disease is substantially higher in their occupation than in the general population. Workers in occupations in which the rate of the disease is similar to that of the general public may have a difficult time proving that they contracted the disease at work rather than at home or from the general public. Any individual who believes they have contracted the Coronavirus as a result of exposure in the workplace should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

Individuals who are currently working under medical restrictions due to any work injury may be become unable to work as a result of the health precautions and/or economic effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. Individuals with work injuries often return to positions with physical or mental limitations as a result of the work injury.  These jobs may become unavailable because they are non-essential. Additionally, employers may be forced to close their doors either because of lack of work or actions taken by State, Local, and Federal Governments to protect the public. Typically, an individual who is incapable of performing their job and becomes unemployed through no-fault of their own is entitled to reinstate their claim for workers’ compensation benefits. For example, an individual who previously worked at a restaurant as a cook but is now working as a host due to a back injury, is currently unable to work because of the restrictions on restaurants. The employee continues to have restrictions which prevent him from working elsewhere as a cook but cannot work as a host when the restaurant is closed to the public. Under the current law, this individual is entitled to reinstatement of workers’ compensation wage loss benefits.

“Like most things surrounding COVID-19, there is a great deal of uncertainty. Anyone who believes they either contracted the coronavirus as a direct result of their employment or as an unrelated work injury and is now unable to work due to the virus should contact an experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney” says Donald C. Ligorio, a Principal of HKQ Law and a Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist.

If you need to speak to a Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist, call the attorneys at HKQ Law at 800-760-1LAW to schedule your free consultation.

About HKQ Law

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms that has had the privilege of representing more families in the courtroom than any other NEPA firm. The attorneys at HKQ Law have been honored as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms by US News and World Report, and have received the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbel. HKQ Law was recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, Jr., has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history. The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A Quinn, Jr. is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. In addition, Best Lawyers, in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report, has designated HKQ a Tier 1 Best Law Firm across multiple categories in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

Additional information can be found at www.HKQLaw.com or by calling (800) 760-1529.

				

 

As Hourigan, Kluger and Quinn addresses the concerns raised by COVID-19, the health and safety of our clients, employees and friends of the firm remain our top priority.


These are very difficult and scary times and we hope that you and your loved ones are safe and symptom free. We recognize that so many of you are understandably anxious about your health, the economic impact of this pandemic and all of the consequences of social isolation.

We also recognize that many of you are anxious about how the coronavirus is impacting the Court systems, our firm and your cases. Although all of our offices are closed, our firm has remained fully operational and we have initiated procedures that allow all of our attorneys and staff to work remotely from their homes. Each of us and our staff will respond to any emails and calls about your cases as quickly as possible.

Our Federal and State Courts have instituted significant changes in their calendars as a result of the coronavirus. Although most courthouses are closed to the public, and Hearings and Trials will be delayed for some time, there are matters that can proceed telephonically and by video. Despite these changes in the Court calendars, we are working diligently on your cases and are determined to do whatever we possibly can to assure an early and just recovery for you and your loved ones. Even under these difficult circumstances, we believe that "Nobody will work harder for you than we will."

With regard to new potential clients, we are not in a position to have an in-person new client meeting, but we will be conducting these initial meetings via phone. New potential clients should call us for a free telephone consultation at (570) 287-3000.

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