In California, workers’ compensation covers work-related injuries or illnesses. While the COVID-19 pandemic is still going on, employees should know that if they contract COVID-19 at work, it may be covered under workers’ compensation.
California law requires employers to pay for workers’ compensation coverage. This coverage provides medical benefits and disability payments to California workers who were injured on the job. Workers’ compensation coverage also applies in cases where employees were killed on the job or died due to work-related events. If a work-related death occurs, the deceased individual’s family may be entitled to death benefits.
California COVID-19 Illness Attorney
If you have recently contracted the COVID-19 virus and believe that you contracted it at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Contact the law firm of Kneisler & Schondel as soon as possible to learn more about how to proceed with a workers’ compensation claim.
Our attorney has many years of experience successfully handling all types of work injury cases. We are here to help you fight for the workers’ compensation benefits that you are entitled to.
COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Cases in California
Since the pandemic began, there have been approximately 35,000 cases involving COVID-19 related work illnesses. According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, there was a spike in these cases during the summer, which may continue into the fall.
The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California is anticipating that these virus-related workers’ compensation cases may result in more than two billion dollars in costs for employers and insurers. However, these costs may ultimately be offset by the fact that workers’ compensation cases for other types of injuries and illnesses were filed less frequently than usual.
What Industries Are Most Affected By COVID-19?
There are certain industries in which more workers are infected with COVID-19 for reasons related to their job than others. The California Workers’ Compensation Institute has found that 30% of the COVID-19 related claims for benefits were from employees in retail, manufacturing, and government positions.
Not surprisingly, 40% of COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims were by employees working in the healthcare industry. The remaining 30% of COVID-19 related claims for workers’ compensation benefits were for the “other” category—representing a wide variety of other industries.
Proving Your COVID-19 Illness is Work-Related
In May of 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order giving extra protections to employees who contracted COVID-19 while on the job. This executive order transfers the burden of proof from employees to prove that they contracted COVID-19 while performing work duties, to the employer. The burden is on employers to prove that the employee did not contract COVID-19 at work.
This shifting of the burden of proof makes it easier for employees to successfully pursue workers’ compensation benefits for their COVID-19 illnesses. Without this shift, it would be very difficult to prove their entitlement to benefits. There is much that is still unknown about the virus, including how to stop it.
It is important to keep in mind that even essential workers may have their claims denied. Though the executive order allows for the shift in the burden of proof, California employers are still entitled to present evidence to dispute their employees’ claims.
Additionally, the executive order only covers workers that tested positive after March 19, and also requires that they were working at their employer’s place of business during a fourteen-day time period after being diagnosed. Unfortunately, some workers may have been infected at the very beginning of the pandemic, worked from home, or did not have access to COVID-19 testing. These things can all contribute to a denial of a case.
What Should I Do If I Have Contracted COVID-19 On the Job?
If you have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and believe that you contracted the illness on the job, you should file a claim to pursue workers’ compensation benefits. The sooner you file your case, the sooner you may be able to receive your benefits.
The best way to move forward with filing your workers’ compensation claim is to hire a workers’ compensation attorney. Your attorney will meet with you to learn more about the facts of your case, and can then help file the claim.
You will also need to fill out certain forms and use them to provide notice to your employer. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier will then investigate your claim. It can take some time to begin receiving benefits, so it is essential to contact an attorney and move forward with your case as soon as possible. Contact us today at 707-542-5132 or fill out our online contact form to see how we can help you.