One of the biggest news stories of 2016 has been the rapid spread of the Zika virus. It is spread from person to person through mosquito bites. Last year, there was an outbreak of Zika in Brazil, which spread throughout South America. As Americans traveled to those affected nations, they brought the virus back with them. Though Zika was originally thought to be practically harmless, it was discovered that, when contracted by a pregnant woman, it can cause microcephaly in fetuses.
Miami in particular was hit hard by the Zika outbreak, due to its tropical weather and the fact that its airport is usually where planes from South America land before travelers get on connecting flights. Zika spread throughout the city, affecting men and women alike, including police officers. The City of Miami said such cases could be covered by workers’ compensation — if unrealistic criteria were met.
In a letter, City Manager Jimmy Morales said that, in order to receive compensation for medical bills, Miami police must prove that the mosquito bite took place in the line of duty. In addition, the officer must be able to identify the specific mosquito that bit them and gave them Zika. One officer received compensation originally, then had it revoked. Another officer was outright denied. The officers were instead forced to take sick days and pay for any deductibles and other medical costs. Though the officer was later given her sick days back and placed on paid administrative leave, Bobby Jenkins, head of the Miami Police union, says this is about setting a precedent for all city employees in a city where Zika is prevalent.
The city is arguing that it is difficult, if not impossible, to prove Zika is an occupational disease. As such, it is not the city’s responsibility to pay out workers’ compensation unless further proof is given.
If you have filed for workers’ compensation in South Carolina, and your claim was denied, we can help. Contact the attorneys at Howell & Christmas today for a free consultation