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Have you had the flu this year?
You're coughing and have a sore throat. Your head hurts. Your body aches, and your nose is backed up like rush hour traffic. You have the flu. Now, you have to miss a day of work to go to the doctor and two more days because you can't crawl out of bed.
Can you get workers' compensation for the flu?
To get workers' compensation, you must be able to show that your injury is work related, meaning it was caused by your work duties or the conditions of your workplace.
To get workers' compensation for the flu, you need to be able to show that the disease was specifically contracted at work. This is very hard, if not impossible, to prove. However, even if you could somehow prove this, most states specifically exclude diseases from workers' compensation coverage.
While workers' compensation laws do vary by state, we'll look at South Carolina's law as a general guideline.
South Carolina's workers' compensation statute defines a compensable injury as an "injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment and shall not include a disease in any form," except for occupational diseases. The statute also says, "No disease shall be considered an occupational disease when it:
So, since the flu is an "ordinary disease of life" that you could get anywhere, it is not covered by workers' compensation, even if you suspect you contracted it from your coughing, sneezing coworker.
But I Missed Work!
While you usually can't get workers' compensation for the flu, don't worry about missing work. If you're lucky enough to be full time employees, you'll usually get sick leave benefits, and the employer will still pay you.
If you've suffered a more serious injury at work, such as a back or knee injury, an experienced workers' compensation attorney will be able to help evaluate your claim.