Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

HIV and Workers' Compensation

This is about a case in Virginia. Potential claimant just l qdllc03/09/17
"There's no question that the likely point of exposure was d sillydood03/09/17
Well, unless he's been sleeping with crack hos I don't know qdllc03/09/17
"There's no question he got it from exposure from his job." tedandlisa12303/10/17
This. HIV is notoriously difficult to transmit outside of se bucwild03/10/17
just to be clear, for a man it's about 0.03% to 0.09% to con dingbat03/10/17
I pulled a CT worker's comp case where the appeals court rec qdllc03/10/17
My two cents is that if you can look through the prison reco flharfh03/10/17
Your guy's a closeted gay man and won't admit it. fettywap03/10/17
Yes. Is he really going to admit to the wife that he was se tedandlisa12303/10/17
I handle workers' comp claims in Virginia. You have your wor booyah03/10/17
Yeah, Virginia sucks when it comes to workers' compensation qdllc03/13/17
qdllc (Mar 9, 2017 - 11:43 am)

This is about a case in Virginia. Potential claimant just learned he's HIV-positive after being hospitalized with two chronic infections. Retired from the state correctional system.

There's no question that the likely point of exposure was during his job, but the employer didn't conduct regular HIV screenings, and the most he could hope to find to prove incidents of exposure might be in log entries of incidents between guards and inmates.

Finding a workers' compensation lawyer with experience in occupational diseases is frustrating in the least. I know for a sickness, the statute of limitations usually runs from "date of communication" and not "date of injury" since you rarely know exactly when a medical condition manifests. Even with HIV, you can test negative for a period of time after exposure if you are tested right after a workplace incident.

Anyone have insight on this issue?

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sillydood (Mar 9, 2017 - 11:45 am)

"There's no question that the likely point of exposure was during his job..."

Source for that claim? Seems like a remarkable assertion - most people who get HIV get it from consensual sex or intravenous drug use.

Does the worker have a documented incident (needle prick from infected inmate etc.) where this could have happened?

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qdllc (Mar 9, 2017 - 3:22 pm)

Well, unless he's been sleeping with crack hos I don't know about, he's not a drug user nor gotten any likely "exposure" since retiring. HIV is highly difficult to contract in the open world compared to a correctional facility. He's under sedation right now, so we are waiting until he's awake and lucid to try to pinpoint potential exposure incidents. It's unlikely the employer documented every "splash" incident outside of disciplinary records on inmates. He can give us more details when he's awake enough to think clearly.

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tedandlisa123 (Mar 10, 2017 - 7:51 am)

"There's no question he got it from exposure from his job."

Based on what he told you? 99.99% of HIV cases are transmitted through intraveneous drug use or receptive unprotected anal intercouse. Unless one had large gaping wounds (which I think would be pretty well documented), even getting splashed with blood would be pretty hard to transmit the disease.

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bucwild (Mar 10, 2017 - 8:07 am)

This. HIV is notoriously difficult to transmit outside of sex/drug use. This is because the HIV virus dies upon exposure to oxygen. Remember when Magic Johnson was diagnosed with HIV, and players were literally scared to play with him in case he had an open wound? They debunked that possibility decades ago. Even your chances of transmitting HIV through vaginal sex, without a condom, are less than 1%

You have a serious uphill battle proving he got contracted that through his job, unless you can establish extraordinary facts. Was he shanked with an HIV laced syringe in a prison riot?

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dingbat (Mar 10, 2017 - 10:38 am)

just to be clear, for a man it's about 0.03% to 0.09% to contract HIV through vaginal sex, for a woman it's about 0.02% - 0.15%. If with someone with an acute infection, that increases to about 2%.

For anal sex, it's 0.06%-0.62% for the top, 0.4% to 3.38% for the bottom, increasing to 20% if the partner has an acute infection

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qdllc (Mar 10, 2017 - 11:59 am)

I pulled a CT worker's comp case where the appeals court recognized HIV as an "occupational disease" because a correctional officer is exposed to HIV sources much more so than the average person outside of a prison environment. This particular person was on a "rapid response team," and the concurring opinion made an issue about the "rapid response team" aspect as ALL correctional officers are expected to break up fights, seize contraband and handle inmates who may be HIV-positive (basically saying all correctional officers should be able to claim occupational disease).

You're right, it's hard to contract HIV, but even though the risk from "splash" exposure through blood, urine, feces or other bodily fluids is slim, the shear number of opportunities make it quite possible.

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flharfh (Mar 10, 2017 - 12:03 pm)

My two cents is that if you can look through the prison records to identify incidents where he may have been exposed (especially ones with blood) you can meet your burden. If the other side wants to claim your guy was screwing prostitutes or shooting heroin between his toes, let them come up with evidence of it.

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fettywap (Mar 10, 2017 - 3:36 pm)

Your guy's a closeted gay man and won't admit it.

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tedandlisa123 (Mar 10, 2017 - 4:44 pm)

Yes. Is he really going to admit to the wife that he was secretly getting it up the behind on his way home from work for the past 20 years. Of course he got it from work.

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booyah (Mar 10, 2017 - 7:11 pm)

I handle workers' comp claims in Virginia. You have your work cut out for you.

HIV is considered an "ordinary disease of life," so you'll have to prove by clear and convincing evidence, not just a preponderance, that a specific work exposure caused the disease.

Unless you can pinpoint an event with a HIV positive inmate, backed up by medical treatment and an accident report, I don't think you'll win.

The claim's value is also limited by the fact that he has retired and HIV medication often keeps symptoms under control for years, so you may have a hard time proving disability and entitlement to wage loss benefits. That's why it has become more difficult to win SSD claims based solely on HIV diagnosis.

Finally, the Commonwealth of Virginia, which would be this claimant's employer, rarely settles cases. That can make it hard for you to earn a fee.

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qdllc (Mar 13, 2017 - 6:57 am)

Yeah, Virginia sucks when it comes to workers' compensation (from the claimant's perspective).

He started having suspicious illnesses (being home sick for WEEKS at a time) during the last couple of years before he retired...which helps give a timeline of when he may have been exposed (last five years most likely). The "test" the hospital done indicates a count that infers he's in the early stages of the disease. Up to now, he never knew he had HIV and wasn't taking any medication for it.

As you can guess, the Department of Corrections is stonewalling the wife for information about exposure incidents. I doubt they will cooperate absent a legal proceeding. It will be critical to pinpoint incidents where there should be documentation of an exposure incident. As nothing of this topic came up until now, I'm suspecting that the DOC didn't bother with regular HIV screenings or testing post-exposure incidents.

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