April 15, 2020 VIRUS RELATED WORK INJURIES An injured person may claim that a company’s failure to take to reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of the Corona virus at its place of business makes out an accidental event that led to bodily injury. WORKERS COMP – AUTOMATIC BUT LIMITED Hurt at work? Every employer must provide workers compensation insurance. If the injury arises “in and out of” the work requirements, medical bills and wage replacement comes on a no-fault basis. People whose work is considered essential during virus shutdown should enjoy workers compensation to pay the medical bills related to their work injuries. EASY TO SUE BUT IS IT COVERED? Can you sue anyone for personal injuries from COVID 19 picked up at work? How does personal injury insurance work on construction sites? Insurance for virus related personal injuries may be available. The insurance payouts, (other than workers’ compensation) if any, would come from General Liability – business owner insurance. General Liability insurance grants coverage for personal injury caused by an occurrence. The trigger for coverage is a legal claim made against the policy holder business, usually alleging negligence or carelessness. If general liability insurance applies, the recovery should be collectable. Claims where there is no insurance, often are not worth the trouble. BODILY INJURY CLAIMS – COVERED UNLESS EXCLUDED Exclusions in the General Liability insurance policy terms will take away coverage for what you would otherwise consider to be covered. The General Liability Pollution Exclusion is one example. Many standard insurance forms are specially tailored for one reason or another. The exact wording of the exclusions, endorsements and policy language will establish the battleground for coverage or its absence. IS VIRUS POLLUTION? When a bodily injury claim is made against an insured company, usually the insurer pays to defend the claim. If the claim could be covered by the policy under any reading of the allegations, the insurer must defend. If the claim falls squarely on an exclusion from coverage, the insurer can ask the court to declare the carrier has no duty to defend or indemnify its insured. Is virus contamination picked up at work “pollution”? BIG COVERAGE QUESTION – HOW DOES THE POLLUTION EXCLUSION READ? Personal injury claims from the COVID 19 virus will meet efforts by the general liability insurers to walk away from coverage due to the “pollution exclusion” and other phrases in the policy. Examination of the text of the pollution exclusion, matched with the claim will decide if the insurer has to defend, and if so, if it also has to pay any judgment, and if so, up to what limit. Knowing the language of the General Liability pollution exclusion will usually determine the general liability insurance exposure to work related virus personal injury claims.