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In Alabama, an occupational disease is defined as “a disease arising out of and in the course of employment… which is due to hazards in excess of those ordinarily incident to employment in general and is peculiar to the occupation in which the employee is engaged but without regard to negligence or fault, if any, of the employer.”
Therefore, for the coronavirus to be considered compensable in Alabama, the employee would have to be able to prove that contracting it was due to hazards in excess of those ordinarily incident to employment in generaland that it is peculiar to the employee’s occupation.
It will be difficult for an employee to show that contracting the virus resulted from a risk of employment. The reason being that, like the flu, you face the same sort of risk when you go home or when you walk about in public. Some state laws have presumptions for health care workers or first responders. Alabama is not one of those states. Without a statutory presumption in place, it would be nearly impossible to prove causation.
This blog submission was prepared by Mike Fish, an attorney with Fish Nelson & Holden, LLC, a law firm dedicated to representing self-insured employers, insurance carriers, and third party administrators in all matters related to workers’ compensation. Fish Nelson & Holden is a member of the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network. If you have any questions about this submission or Alabama workers’ compensation in general, please contact Fish by e-mailing him at email@example.com or by calling him directly at 205-332-1448.