WI first responder COVID-19 infections presumed work related

By Steve Scharfenberg, Esq.

If a Wisconsin first responder is diagnosed with COVID-19, it’s presumed work related under a law that went into effect April 17, 2020.

The new statutory section 102.03(6)(a-d) includes requirements for establishing the injury and also defines “first responder” as:

 “…an employee or volunteer for an employer that provides fire fighting, law enforcement, or medical treatment of COVID-19, and who has regular, direct contact with, or is regularly in close proximity to, patients or other members of the public requiring emergency services, within the scope of the individual’s work for the employer.”

The other sections of the statute provide that:

  • The injury is presumed to have been caused by the employee’s employment.
  • The injury must be accompanied by a specific diagnosis by a physician or by a positive COVID-19 test.
  • The presumption may be rebutted by specific evidence that the injury was caused by exposure to COVID-19 outside of the first responder’s work for the employer.

The presumption ended on June 10, 2020, 30 days after the Public Health Emergency Executive Orders expired.

If first responders were infected with COVID-19 prior to April 17, 2020, they can still make workers’ compensation claims, but there will be no presumption that COVID-19 was work related.

For more information on COVID-19 workers’ compensation questions please check the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Worker’s Compensation COVID-19 page .


This is not intended to serve as legal advice for individual fact-specific legal cases or as a legal basis for your employment practices.


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