On March 12, 2021, the New York Workers’ Compensation Board (the Board) found, in the case of NYS Department of Corrections, that a claimant failed to establish that his contraction of COVID-19 was an accident that arose out of his employment as a correctional officer.
The Board held that, when alleging that COVID-19 has been contracted at work, a claimant may show that an accident occurred in the course of employment by demonstrating prevalence, which can be shown when evidence of the nature and extent of work activities include significant contact with the public and/or coworkers in an area where COVID-19 is prevalent.
The court reasoned that the claimant did not demonstrate prevalence because he failed to indicate whether other coworkers and inmates, who allegedly tested positive for the illness, were in close proximity to the claimant or when these other individuals tested positive. Furthermore, the Board reasoned, the claimant did not go to work for a period of time preceding his COVID-19 diagnosis, during which he engaged in other activities such as shopping, attending a funeral, and going to a hospital for an unrelated event.
The Board concluded the claimant failed to prove that COVID-19 was prevalent in his work environment and, therefore, failed to establish that he experienced an accident that arose in the course of employment.
This decision could be appealed. NCCI will monitor for further developments.
For more information on other cases monitored by NCCI’s Legal Division, visit previous Court Case Updates and
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