IS COVID-19 INFECTION COMPENSABLE UNDER DELAWARE LAW?
19 Del. C. 2301 defines compensable “occupational diseases” as all diseases arising out of and in the course of employment, only when the exposure stated in connection therewith, has occurred during employment.
In Anderson v. General Motors, Corp., 442 A.2d 1359 (Del. 1982), the Delaware Supreme Court elaborated that for an ailment or disease to be found a compensable occupational disease, evidence is required that: (1) the employer’s working conditions produced the ailment; (2) as a natural incident of the employee’s occupation; and (3) in such a manner as to attach to that occupation a hazard distinct from and greater than the hazard attending employment in general. An ailment does not become an occupational disease simply because it is contracted on the employer’s premises. It must be one which is commonly regarded as natural to, inhering in, incident and concomitant of, the work in question.
In short, whether coronavirus infection is compensable under Delaware workers’ compensation law is a highly fact specific inquiry, as well as dependent upon science and medicine that is only in the earliest stages of development at this time. Therefore, it is our recommendation that any such allegation be handled very carefully and with involvement of legal counsel.
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