Philadelphia Lawyer for Work Injuries Caused by Coronavirus OSHA Violations
The city of Philadelphia has seen an unprecedented threat with the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic. The mayor and the governor have issued stay-at-home orders requiring that all people refrain from leaving their residences except for essential activities. The governor has released a list of non-essential businesses that must close until his order is lifted. Many businesses, however, are defined as essential and remain open despite the health risks to their employees.
At the Reiff Law Firm, our Philadelphia lawyers for work injuries caused by Coronavirus-related Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violation have years of experience fighting for our clients to be fully compensated for their pain and suffering. We have been closely monitoring the current situation and the guidelines that OSHA has issued for employers. We can help guide you through the claims process and take your matter to court if necessary. If you or a loved one has been impacted by the coronavirus in the workplace, call us today at (215) 246-9000.
OSHA’s Response to Coronavirus in Philadelphia
Just like the rest of the nation, OSHA has had to react swiftly to deal with a developing situation that came on quickly and fiercely. Due to the rapid and unanticipated spread of the disease, OSHA did not have time to prepare and submit official standards with the force of law regarding the specific concerns brought on by the coronavirus. Instead, they have promulgated a set of recommended guidelines. OSHA has made it clear that these are very strong recommendations that should be adhered to by employers, but they nonetheless lack the enforceability of official standards.
However, within the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which created OSHA, there is something known as the “general duty clause.” This clause, which does have the force of law, states that a workplace must be free from known hazards or hazards that should have been known and that will likely cause severe physical harm or result in the death of an employee. The experienced attorneys at the Reiff Law Firm can make an argument that the coronavirus qualifies as a hazard under this provision.
The guidelines put forward by OSHA are in line with the spirit of the general duty clause. The guidelines include the following recommendations:
- Develop and prepare a COVID-19 response plan
- Implement preventative measures including, but not limited to, routine cleaning and disinfecting, providing access to wash stations and sanitary stations, and protective devices if necessary
- Develop a comprehensive plan to identify infected employees and isolate them from the general workforce
- Install workplace barriers and controls to protect against the spread and infection of COVID-19, for example, reconfiguring the workspace to ensure social distancing
Proving Liability in a Philadelphia Coronavirus OSHA Violations Case
The law related to coronavirus OSHA violations is very new and therefore very fluid. In a typical workplace injury suit, a lawyer would work to prove duty, breach, causation, and damages. The challenge here is that there have yet to be any official duties promulgated regarding additional safety measures to be taken in light of the global health crisis. However, we do have the recommended guidelines in conjunction with the general duty clause. As such, a lawyer could argue that a knowing or willful violation of these guidelines is a breach of a duty. They would then have to prove that this breach caused your illness, and that damages resulted from the breach.
For example, the guidelines state that a comprehensive plan should exist to identify infected employees and isolate them from the general workforce. Some companies have implemented temperature tests, or required employees experiencing any symptoms to stay home and report them to their manager. This could allow companies to keep potentially sick individuals away from dangerous settings like crowded factory floors. If a company does not take these steps or any others to identify and isolate infected employees, and a cluster breaks out among the workforce as a result, they may be in breach of their general duty to prevent known hazards.
In order to show liability under this argument, an experienced attorney like those at the Reiff Law Firm will also have to demonstrate that the employer was aware of or should have been aware of the hazard presented by the spread of coronavirus. Our lawyers have been closely monitoring the development of case law in this area. While the law remains unclear, it could be argued that the issuance of clear guidelines by both OSHA and the CDC demonstrates that these companies should have known about the dangers of not acting.
Damages in a Philadelphia Coronavirus Violations Case
The final element in a workplace injury or illness case is damages. For those sickened by coronavirus, damages can vary greatly depending on the length and severity of the disease and how it impacted their ability to work. If the coronavirus affects you seriously, you could end up with large amounts of medical expenses including potentially astronomical hospital bills. You may need continuing care through physical therapy or long-term treatment. All of this can be claimed as damages in a suit against your employer.
If you were not paid while you could not work due to the virus, you can also claim lost wages. Damages are also available for pain and suffering. These damages are paid to compensate you for the mental, physical, and emotional toll of the illness. If someone is killed by the coronavirus, their next of kin can sue under a theory of wrongful death and collect damages for loss of consortium, lost wages, and more.
Call Our Philadelphia Lawyers for Work Injuries Caused by Coronavirus OSHA Violations Today
The law regarding compensation for those who have become ill as a result of workplace violations of OSHA’s coronavirus guidelines is new and constantly evolving. It is important that you consult an experienced Philadelphia lawyer for work injuries caused by coronavirus-related OSHA violations like those at the Reiff Law Firm. We are following the latest developments and will know the best tactics to fight for you to be justly compensated for your employer’s failure to act. For a free, confidential consultation, call us today at (215) 246-9000.