On April 10, 2020, Alaska enacted a new provision of the Alaskan uncodified Workers’ Compensation Law to grant five (5) classes of workers who file compensation claims based on COVID-19 a “conclusive” presumption that their exposure occurred in the course of their employment. This presumption is available to firefighters, EMT’s, paramedics, peace officers and “health care providers.” This bill is a part of a rapidly expanding national trend.
As of April 30, 2020,
does not yet have a law creating a presumption of work-relatedness for the diagnosis of COVID-19. However, national trends suggest that such legislation may only be a matter of time.
Laws creating broad evidentiary presumptions for COVID-19 present both practical and legal problems for employers and workers’ compensation insurance carriers and may also ultimately frustrate their intended beneficiaries -- the front-line workers suffering from COVID-19. For workers, the rush to legislate has resulted in bills that are overbroad, covering employees with no special risk of exposure e.g. police dispatchers and hospital administrators, and under broad, often leaving out less glamorous jobs with high exposure such as bus drivers and store clerks. For employers and insurers, these laws radically shift the burden of proof on existing policies and may create enormous liabilities. Challenges to these laws will need to be resolved by courts - these bills may not withstand constitutional challenges based on retroactivity, the takings clause, the contracts clause, and due process.
Chartwell is working across the nation to represent the interests of insurers and employers. Chartwell attorneys are on the front-line litigating all issues associated with COVID-19 and are available to advise regarding both individual claims and litigation challenging legislation.
This bill is a part of a rapidly expanding national trend.
Chartwell Law represents the interests of insurers and employers, as such, we continue to continue to monitor the legal landscape. If you have any questions about issues associated with COVID-19, our attorneys are available to help. Please contact your Chartwell Law attorney or email us at Covid19WC@chartwelllaw.com.