Minnesota Work Comp Presumption For COVID-19 Ended December 31, 2021


January 6, 2022

This news blast is to remind you that the presumption applicable to COVID and Minnesota workers’ compensation law ended at 11:59 PM on December 31, 2021.

We have previously issued announcements concerning the COVID presumption as contained in Minn. Stat. §176.011, Subd. 15(f).  Please check our website for more information.

The presumption that took effect in April 2020, has now ended.

For injury dates from April, 2020, through the end of 2021, an employee is covered by the presumption if that employee worked in one of the listed categories of employment:

  • Peace officer as defined by Stat. §626.64, Subd. 1;
  • Firefighter;
  • Paramedic;
  • Nurse, health care worker, corrections officer or security counselor employed by the state or a political subdivision at a corrections, detention or secure treatment facility;
  • Emergency medical technician;
  • Health care provider, nurse or assistive employee employed in a health care, home care or long-term care setting with direct COVID-19 patient care or ancillary work in COVID-19 patient unit;
  • Workers required to provide child care to first responders and healthcare workers under Executive Order 20–02, and Executive Order 20–19.

The employee’s COVID-19 must be confirmed by a positive laboratory test, or if a laboratory test was not available, the employee was diagnosed by a licensed physician, licensed physician assistant, or a licensed advanced practice registered nurse based on employee’s symptoms.  A copy of the positive laboratory test or the written diagnosis of the clinician shall be provided to the employer or insurer.

If the statutory provision is satisfied, the employee is presumed to have a compensable occupational disease, unless the presumption is rebutted by the employer or insurer by showing the employment was not a direct cause of the disease.  The burden of proof shifts to the defense.

REMAINING MORE LIMITED PRESUMPTION

Because the COVID specific presumption is no longer available for dates of injury after December 31, 2021, an employee may potentially raise a presumption that remains in the statute regarding infectious and communicable disease.

The infectious disease presumption is contained in Minn. Stat. §176.011, Subd. 15 (b). This applies only to certain, listed occupations.  It covers employees who contract an infectious or communicable disease in the course and scope of employment, outside of a hospital. If the provisions of this infectious or communicable disease presumption are met, then the injury is compensable unless the employer rebuts the presumption by showing substantial factors. Any substantial factors used to rebut the presumption that are known to the employer and insurer at the time of denial shall be communicated to the employee in that denial of liability.

SUMMARY

Please reach out to us to discuss COVID claims – whether before or after the effective dates of the presumption.  Minnesota’s occupational disease statute provides that in general, ordinary diseases of life (note that “ordinary” does not mean the disease isn’t potentially severe or dangerous), such as COVID-19 are not compensable. A disease arises out of employment only if there is a direct, causal connection between the disease and conditions of the work, and the occupational disease is a result of exposure occasioned by the employment. An employer is not liable for compensation for an occupational disease that cannot be traced to the employment as a direct and proximate cause, or for an injury that results from a hazard to which the employee would have been equally exposed outside of employment. Minn. Stat. §176.011, Subd. 15, generally.

These situations require substantial case-by-case analysis at the time compensability is determined, and we look forward to working with you and answering your questions.

Timothy P. Jung – timothy.jung@lindjensen.com
Mark A. Fredrickson – mark.fredrickson@lindjensen.com
Katie H. Storms – katie.storms@lindjensen.com
Molly H. de la Vega – molly.delavega@lindjensen.com

https://www.lindjensen.com