If you are a Virginia firefighter and had a worker's compensation claim for Covid-19 denied, the following is the basic information that you need to obtain from a physician in order to attempt to obtain the benefit of the rebuttable presumption contained in Virginia Code Section 65.2-402(A):
1. Confirmation that you were diagnosed with Covid-19 and the date of the diagnosis. For example, “Firefighter X was diagnosed with Covid-19 on ___________, 2020.”
2. Confirmation of your disability from work as a direct result of your Covid-19. For example, Firefighter X was totally disabled from all work from _____, 2020 to _____, 2020 as a direct result of his diagnosis of Covid-19.”
3. Confirmation that Covid-19 is a “Respiratory Disease”. For example, “In my medical opinion and to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, Covid-19 is a Respiratory Disease”.
These opinions need to be obtained and signed by a doctor (M.D.) and not a nurse or physician’s assistant. Once you have obtained the above information from a physician, please contact me to set up an appointment to file your claim with the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Commission.
Please also be advised that if you are able to obtain the benefit of the presumption, the Employer can attempt to rebut the presumption by proving one of the following:
1. That Covid-19 is not a respiratory disease; or
2. That your Covid-19 was not caused by your employment and that there was a non-work related cause of your Covid-19.
Additional information from your physician that is not necessary to obtain the benefit of the presumption, but will be very helpful in ultimately prevailing in your claim is as follows:
1. That the physician is aware of an exposure in your employment (occupational exposure) prior to your diagnosis to an individual who had been diagnosed with Covid-19.
2. That the physician is aware that you at all times prior to your diagnosis were following all recommended safety protocols outside of your employment, including, but not limited to, wearing masks, proper social distancing, avoiding group exposures, and washing your hands.
3. That based upon his knowledge of 1 and 2 above, it is the doctor’s medical opinion (to a reasonable degree of medical certainty) that your diagnosis of Covid-19 was caused (most likely caused) by your occupational exposure in your employment as a firefighter.