From the Desk of Attorney David L. Niefer
PRACTICE TIP: Even if claimant works for a healthcare facility, careful analysis of the facts of each claim will increase the prospect for a disallowance.
In the case of Ryan Health Women & Children, WCB G3002731 (7/26/22), a three member Board Panel of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board carefully evaluated the facts of a COVID claim which had been established by the WCLJ below. While the claimant worked within a healthcare facility, the facts established that she spent most of her time in the call center answering the phone without direct personal contact with patients or medical personnel. Although some patients were placed into a waiting area on the same floor as the call center, the number of patients was deemed to be minimal (3 to 4 at a time) and the claimant would pass by the patients while wearing her mask on the way to the bathroom a few times per day. While patients would be triaged at the claimant’s place of employment, the claimant was not involved in the triage process and the triage process was performed on a different floor from that on which the claimant worked. Finally, the claimant failed to establish a specific exposure to COVID via a co-worker.
The Board Panel determined that the claimant “did not credibly establish that she worked with anyone who had symptoms of COVID-19 or who tested positive for COVID-19 in the two weeks prior to the onset of her symptoms on January 4, 2021.” Thus, after a careful review of the facts presented by the case in question, the Board Panel reversed the ruling of the WCLJ and disallowed the case for COVID despite the fact that the claimant worked within a healthcare facility.
If you have any questions about this or any other issue, contact David L. Niefer at (607) 723-0600 or any of the attorneys in our office. If you would like a training session on this or any area of the Workers’ Compensation Law, please do not hesitate to contact our firm.
This information is provided for general guidance only. This information should not be used as a substitute for consultation with legal counsel. Each case presents unique facts requiring individual analysis.