Workers' Compensation Coverage and Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique circumstance where the many jobs that are not typically considered hazardous have suddenly become very dangerous for the workers. Workers deemed essential including health care workers, mass transit operators and grocery store workers, among others, are at a high risk of exposure to the virus while at work.
COVID-19 may be deemed as an Occupational Disease. An Occupational Disease may be defined as any abnormal condition or disorder caused by exposure to environmental factors associated with employment, including acute and chronic illnesses or diseases which may be caused by inhalation, absorption, ingestion, or direct contact.
The following information should not be deemed as legal recommendation, rather it merely seeks to explain some of the things that you should probably know about workers’ compensation coverage and COVID-19.
Does Workers' Compensation Cover Coronavirus (COVID-19) if I Get Sick at Work?
Yes, it should. Workers’ compensation covers occupational illnesses or injuries resulting from exposure to contagious diseases on the job.
However, there are some requirements that must be met before your medical expenses are covered by your employer. For example, you need to be employed by a company that has workers’ compensation coverage. Nevertheless, if you work for a company that does not provide this coverage, then, unfortunately, it will be more difficult to be eligible under this program.
Also, as with any injury, there must be a causal connection between employment and the occupational disease in order for it to be compensable. Causal connection is not that simple too, hence discussing your specific situation with an attorney is imperative.
Therefore, if you believe you were exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19) at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. It is important to know your rights regarding workers’ compensation benefits and COVID-19.
Should I Speak with an Attorney?
Yes. An injured worker is encouraged to seek to speak with an experienced attorney. The attorney on the other hand, prior to filing a claim on behalf of a worker, will probably discuss the following with the injured worker in order to obtain more information about the potential claim.
- Does the injured worker believe that there was an increased risk or greater likelihood of contracting the condition due to the worker’s occupation?
- If not for their job, would the worker have been exposed to the virus or contracted the condition?
- Can the worker identify the source, facts, or events during the performance of his or her employment that resulted in an increase exposure greater likelihood of contracting the condition?
The above criteria is probably some of the things that an experienced attorney may inquire about, but ultimately a medical doctor will need to render an opinion and hopefully connect the dots between the overall exposure and work.
When to file a claim?
Immediately. The injured worker needs to be proactive and obtain information about filing a claim as soon as possible. Otherwise, if takes too long to file a claim, there are many Statutes of Limitations that may be used by the insurance company to deny and ultimately disprove the claim.
How Can I File a Claim?
It’s important to understand that workers’ compensation doesn’t cover every illness or injury and there are certain exceptions that an experienced attorney should be familiar with.
If you are sick due to been exposed to COVID-19 at work, your employer may be required to provide you with medical treatment reasonably necessary to help cure or relieve the effects of your illness, disability benefits if you can’t work because of the illness or exposure, and a fair compensation due to the effects of the exposure or illness, if any.
If you have questions about whether your employer is required to pay disability benefits or any other benefits sponsored under the California workers compensation system, please Contact Us Now.
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The content and views expressed herein is for information only and may not be accurate AND does not constitute legal advice or legal representation. If you have questions, you should contact our office immediately or should speak with an attorney as soon as possible.