Employers Can Be Liable for Tick Bites

Employers Can Be Liable For Tick Bites

Recent reports show that the number of tickborne diseases has increased significantly during the past few years. Not only is Lyme disease a major concern, there has also been a dramatic rise in a rare tick disease known as anaplasmosis, a condition that causes symptoms such as fever, chills, nausea, headaches, and the loss of appetite.

It is not entirely clear why we are seeing such a major spike in tickborne diseases. Researchers speculate that it may be partially due to the large number of people who are moving from densely populated urban areas into rural communities. This trend has accelerated in the wake of Covid-19 as more and more people are able to work from home and no longer have to be located near their employer’s office.

Climate change is another factor that is said to be driving tick disease increases, and this summer, we have experienced many days with high humidity and extreme heat in Pennsylvania and throughout the Northeast. These are ideal conditions for ticks and the pathogens that they carry to survive.

Can Employers be Liable for Tick Bites?

The short answer to this question is, “yes”. Businesses with employees who work outdoors such as utility line workers, construction contractors, landscapers, logging/timber industry workers, etc., could be liable for tick bites and the effects they have on their employees’ ability to work.

Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, workers who sustain a work-related injury or illnesses while on the job are eligible to receive compensation for medical expenses as well as wage loss compensation benefits. If an employee can prove that a tick bite occurred on the job and has documentation of a diagnosed injury or illness, they can file for workers’ compensation benefits.

Now, being eligible for workers’ comp does not necessarily mean that you will get approved for benefits. Like all other types of insurers, workers’ compensation providers are always looking to minimize the amount of compensation they pay out to claimants. And toward that end, they have made the claims process far more complicated and confusing than it should be.

For example, unethical employers and their insurance carriers might deny a valid claim on a technicality, hoping that the worker will give up on trying to recover the benefits that they deserve. They might also deny the claim saying that it is not work-related.

There are some cases in which the insurer might have a valid reason to issue a denial. For example, if you work in an office and you contracted a tickborne disease after going for a walk in the woods on your lunch break, this situation probably would not be covered. An office worker is not likely to be bitten by a tick or insect during the course of regular work, so filing a claim under these circumstances would be an uphill battle.

In occupations where employees regularly work outdoors, however, it is an entirely different story. When you are working in an industry like construction or logging where you are often around trees, there is a reasonable risk that you might end up with a tickborne disease at some point. In cases like these, the employee should be eligible for workers’ comp benefits.

If you have been denied workers’ compensation benefits or you need any other kind of help with your claim, call our office for a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys.

Helpful Tips for Preventing Tick Bites

If you work outdoors, the risk of tick exposure is much greater than in the general population. According to the CDC, April through September are the most active months for ticks, but they can show up at any time of the year. To minimize your chances of a tickborne disease, follow these important steps:

  • Understand where to expect ticks. They are normally found in wooded, brushy, and grassy areas, and they are also often found on animals.
  • Dress to limit exposure to ticks. Wear full-length pants with socks over them to prevent ticks from latching on to your ankles and calves. Wear long-sleeve shirts with gloves over the sleeve (if that is bearable and practical depending on the weather conditions and your job) to help prevent ticks from getting into your upper body.
  • Treat your clothing and gear. Use products that contain 0.5% permethrin to treat your clothing, boots, and work gear.
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents. Use repellents that contains EPA-approved substances such as DEET, Eucalyptus (OLE), and Oil of Lemon.
  • Keep first aid supplies at the jobsite. Always have a first aid kit on hand when working outdoors, and make sure the kit contains an EpiPen in case someone has an allergic reaction after getting stung or bitten.
  • Check your clothing after work. Examine your clothing for ticks, then tumble dry your clothes in the dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes to kill any ticks that you may not have found. If your clothes are damp, more drying time might be needed.
  • Shower and check your body for ticks. Take a shower within a couple hours after finishing work, then conduct a full body check for ticks (e.g., in and around your hair, in and around your ears, under your arms, in your private areas, etc.)

Contact a Seasoned Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If you, or someone you know has been bitten by a tick and has suffered health related issues from the tick bite, call Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman at 412-567-1232 or toll-free at 866-466-5789 for a free evaluation of your case.