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Some question if workers' compensation will cover Ebola infection

In light of the troubling news reports concerning the number of health care providers becoming infected with Ebola, many may wonder if they can be compensated for lost time and their own medical expenses should they become ill. However, at this time, it may be unknown if workers' compensation would cover any worker sickened by this dreaded fever. While there are no reports of the disease in North Carolina, many doctors, nurses and aides may be worrying about the possibility of getting sick.

Many doctors and other health providers have contracted the illness, and many  have died. So far, two nurses in this country have suffered infection and were transported for treatment at specialized facilities. Other medical professionals survived the disease after treatment in this country. It is too early to determine if the fever would be considered a workplace illness. In order for an employee to qualify for benefit coverage, there are two main criteria the compensation program uses to determine if an illness qualifies.

The first is whether the illness is a direct result of the occupation, such as black lung in the coal industry. The second is whether the illness is associated with a worker's particular job responsibilities. Various state laws also enter into this portion of the requirements.

Since the more common influenza is not restricted to a health care provider's duties and can be contracted outside of the job, the Ebola virus may be seen in this same light, for now. However, at some point, those in charge of the workers' compensation program may consider the correlation between infection rates and health care professionals. Workers in North Carolina are entitled to file a claim for benefits whenever they suffer a work-related injury or illness. Anyone who has questions regarding how to file a successful claim may inquire at local resources for assistance in the process.

Source:, "Is Ebola Compensable Under Workers' Compensation?", Chris Boggs, Oct. 15, 2014

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