Second Injury Fund Benefits for Recovered Coronavirus Patients

First responders, quasi-military, and healthcare workers, dubbed “public safety workers” by John H. Geaney, have a higher susceptibility to contracting COVID-19 than the general public.[1] Their line of duty makes it so they are in the presence of other potentially infected people. A CNBC article dated April 1 stated over 1,400 civilian and uniformed officers have tested positive for COVID-19.[9] Recent reports have also shed some light on the grim reality that coronavirus patients who no longer tested positive for the virus, can be re-infected after a period.[2] In addition, the coronavirus may also be seasonal.[3]

The Second Injury Fund has its roots in pushing employers to hire disabled workers without fear of liability. It was created “for the purpose of making benefit payments to workers already partially disabled who subsequently experience a work-related injury which together, render them totally disabled”, according to the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development.[4] The coronavirus has been most lethal to those with pre-existing conditions. Those afflicted could develop permanent lung scarring. Recovered coronavirus patients may have “partially reduced lung function”, suggesting organ damage.[5] Some may also experience blood clotting, which could occur in the brain, or toes.[6] This could elevate the risk of a stroke or heart attack, or even cause loss of limb, limiting workers’ ability to adequately perform the jobs they used to do.[7] Others have developed kidney failure. Lastly, the immune system may become severely compromised.[8] Public safety workers that had pre-existing conditions concerning these injuries may become disabled after a bout with the coronavirus, prompting speculation whether they would be eligible for Second Injury Fund Benefits.

[1] Geaney, John H. “The Potential Impact Of The Coronavirus On New Jersey Workers’ Compensation.” NJ Workers’ Comp Blog, NJ Workers’ Comp Blog, 28 Feb. 2020, njworkerscompblog.com/the-potential-impact-of-the-coronavirus-on-new-jersey-workers-compensation/.

[2] Feuer, William, and Berkeley Lovelace. “WHO Officials Say It’s Unclear Whether Recovered Coronavirus Patients Are Immune to Second Infection.” CNBC, CNBC LLC., 13 Apr. 2020, www.cnbc.com/2020/04/13/who-officials-say-its-unclear-whether-recovered-coronavirus-patients-are-immune-to-second-infection.html.

[3] Freedman, Andrew, and Jason Samenow. “Coronavirus May Have a Seasonal Cycle, but That Doesn’t Mean It Will Go Away This Summer, Experts Warn.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 11 Mar. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/03/11/coronavirus-may-have-seasonal-cycle-that-doesnt-mean-it-will-go-away-this-summer-experts-warn/.

[4] “Department of Labor and Workforce Development: Office of Special Compensation Funds.” Department of Labor and Workforce Development | Office of Special Compensation Funds, State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, www.nj.gov/labor/wc/content/oscf.html.

[5] Freund, Aleander. “COVID-19: Recovered Patients Have Partially Reduced Lung Function: DW: 20.03.2020.” DW.COM, Deutsche Welle, 20 Mar. 2020, www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recovered-patients-have-partially-reduced-lung-function/a-52859671.

[6] Gale, Jason. “Coronavirus Causes Damaging Blood Clots From Brain to Toes.” Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg L.P., 4 May 2020, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-04/coronavirus-causes-blood-clots-harming-organs-from-brain-to-toes.

[7] Pichardo, Gabriela. “Blood Clots.” WebMD, WebMD LLC. , 20 Jan. 2020, www.webmd.com/dvt/blood-clots#1.

[8] Radcliffe, Shawn. “Here’s What Happens to the Body After Contracting the New Coronavirus.” Healthline, Healthline Media a Red Ventures Company, 30 Apr. 2020, www.healthline.com/health-news/heres-what-happens-to-the-body-after-contracting-the-coronavirus#Liver-and-kidneys.

[9] Feuer, William. “More than 1,000 New York City Police Officers Have the Coronavirus as 911 Calls Hit Records.” CNBC, CNBC LLC, 1 Apr. 2020, www.cnbc.com/2020/04/01/more-than-1000-new-york-city-police-officers-are-infected-with-coronavirus.html.

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