Weirton Firefighter fights for life from COVID-19 infection, insurance company responds

Brooke County

UPDATE: Encova, the insurance agency, has responded. Here is what they have released at this time.

Upon review of the facts and circumstances of Lieutenant Ritchie’s claim, we have deemed his claim to be covered and will pay appropriate benefits. We have been in contact with Attorney Teresa Toriseva.

Encova is proud to support all first responders, like Lieutenant Ritchie. We appreciate the selfless work of firefighters in our communities.

ENCOVA INSURANCE

Toriseva Law Office has also released a new statement.

Lieutenant Ritchie’s family and Toriseva Law are relieved and grateful that this matter has been quickly resolved. Please continue to pray for Lt. Brian Ritchie.

TERESA TORISEVA, TORISEVA LAW

BROOKE COUNTY, W.VA (WTRF) — A Weirton Firefighter is on a ventilator fighting for his life after contracting COVID-19 on December 17th.

Now, the family and the city are fighting for him to get the compensation they believe he deserves.

50-year-old Lieutenant Brian Ritchie has been a firefighter for Weirton Fire Department for 13 years. As a firefighter, it is virtually impossible to socially distance while on duty.

Attorney Teresa Toriseva says Lieutenant Ritchie’s entire shift tested positive for COVID-19, and so did most of the opposite shift.

Toriseva says the city did their part by reporting the occupational exposure to Encova, the Worker’s comp insurance agency, but Encova is refusing to open a claim. She says it’s extremely important they cover his lost wages and medical bills in a situation like this, because if not them… who?

He couldn’t avoid COVID at work. It is what it is for firefighters. And when they’re harmed from an occupational disease, they should be covered, wages, medical bills. That’s what the system is designed to do. It’s failing here. And we believe it’s failing because Encova, formerly Brickstreet, the workers comp insurance company, is not complying with the law.

TERESA TORISEVA– ATTORNEY, TORISEVA LAW

Toriseva’s hope now is the judge forces the insurance commissioner to open a claim to AT LEAST consider if he contracted COVID-19 as a result of occupational exposure.

We reached out to Encova but have yet to receive a response.

We will of course keep you updated.

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