Can Employers Be Held Liable For COVID-19 Vaccine Adverse Reactions?


As COVID-19 vaccine mandates are becoming more widespread, LHA Trust Funds continues to address more questions from our members.

The most popular query is about potential workers’ compensation risks employers may face from adverse reactions due to COVID-19 vaccines.


Can an employee’s adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine be considered a compensable workers’ compensation claim?


Workers’ compensation claims related to adverse vaccine reactions could potentially be compensable.

Such reactions, either injury or death, would have to arise “out of and in the course of the worker's employment.” That means getting the vaccine would need to be a requirement of employment - either as a condition of employment or as a condition of continued employment.

Examples would include:

  • The employer advises the worker that they cannot work unless they have the vaccination.
  • The employer advises that, while the vaccination is not a condition of employment, the worker would not be permitted at work if there was an outbreak on the employer's premises without the vaccination.

However, the vaccination is not necessarily an employment requirement just because an employee receives a vaccine through a program put on by an employer. When an employee receives a vaccination voluntarily, there are arguably no rights to workers’ compensation benefits.

In addressing adverse reactions to similar vaccines, Louisiana courts have previously held that a hospital employee’s exclusive remedy for an injury sustained through vaccination was through workers’ compensation, even though the hospital was functioning in the dual capacity of health care provider and employer taking care of its employees in complying with federal labor regulations governing vaccinations. (Moore v. St. Francis Cabrini Hospital, 679 So.2d 943, 96-188 (La. App. 3 Cir. 8/21/96)).

Based on similar case law, an injury or adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccination could arguably be compensable if it did occur.


Need more COVID-19 resources? Check out our COVID-19 toolkit for more regulatory, clinical, and liability information.

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