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Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation for COVID-19 in Orange County?

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Archive: Apr 2020

Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation for COVID-19 in Orange County?

COVID-19 (the coronavirus) is a pandemic that has taken thousands of lives. COVID-19 has caused thousands of workers in the U.S. to fall ill, require medical care, and miss work. Filing a workers’ compensation claim for COVID-19 may be possible if you contracted the illness while at work. California’s workers’ compensation system provides no-fault benefits to workers with occupational injuries and illnesses. You will not have to prove someone else’s negligence to be eligible for workers’ compensation in Orange County. You will, however, have to prove that your illness is work-related.

What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?

Most employees throughout California benefit from workers’ compensation insurance coverage through their employers. After any job-related injury or illness, a covered worker can file a claim through his or her employer’s insurance coverage to seek monetary damages. The worker will not have to prove negligence to receive financial benefits. The worker will only need to demonstrate that the injury or illness in question arose from work-related tasks.

Workers’ compensation covers almost all injuries and illnesses. This includes the novel coronavirus. To be eligible for coverage, however, you will need to prove that you came into contact with the COVID-19 virus while performing work-related activities. This can be difficult. If you were on your lunch break at a restaurant and someone coughed on you, for example, you might not have a workers’ compensation claim. You must have contracted the virus while performing job-related duties.

Note that you do not have to have been on your employer’s property or at the office at the time of contact with the COVID-19 virus to qualify for workers’ compensation. If you were on the clock but at a different location, you could also qualify. This includes visiting a store for work-related purposes, going to a job-related function, attending a work conference, traveling for work or visiting a client. It could also include while working remotely or from home. Discuss your specific case with a lawyer to find out if you qualify for coverage.

How Do You File a COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Claim?

If you believe you are eligible for workers’ compensation insurance benefits for COVID-19 through your employer, start your case by reporting your illness. California’s workers’ compensation program requires reporting to employers within at least 30 days of the incident. Stay home from work as soon as you notice possible symptoms of the virus. These can include fever, dry cough and cold- or flu-like symptoms. Call your primary care physician for advice as to your health care and a treatment plan. Document your illness and its related expenses, including medical care and any lost wages, for use on your insurance claim later.

Through a workers’ compensation claim, you could recover compensation for your past and future COVID-19-related hospital stays, procedures, medications, medical devices, nursing care, therapies, and more. You may also receive reimbursement of up to two-thirds of your average weekly wages while the virus takes you out of work. If a loved one loses his or her life due to job-related COVID-19, your family could be eligible for death insurance benefits. This can include payments for a funeral and burial. Speak to an Orange County workers’ compensation lawyer for more information about what your case might be worth

File a workers’ compensation claim by explaining to your employer that you wish to seek compensation. Your employer should print out, complete and file your initial Report of Injury or Illness Form with the company’s workers’ compensation insurance provider by the deadline. You should hear back from the insurance provider within a reasonable amount of time. If the insurer accepts your claim, you will receive benefits within two weeks. If it denies your claim, work with a lawyer to appeal the decision and/or file a civil claim instead. An attorney can help you pursue financial recovery through all possible outlets as a worker in Orange County with COVID-19.

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Everything You Need to Know About COVID-19 Workers’ Comp Claims

COVID-19 has dramatically affected the way of life for most people in this country, including the workplace landscape for most of us. In many cases, stay at home orders and official government mandates have shut down non-essential businesses. However, there are many jobs that are considered essential, and millions of workers across California remain employed. Unfortunately, these workers also face an increased risk of contracting coronavirus.

At DiMarco Araujo Montevideo, our workers’ compensation attorneys want to look at some of the most frequently asked questions currently being asked by our readers. Please understand that this is a fluid situation, and the workers’ compensation laws may be adjusted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Check back regularly for updates.

1. Will COVID-19 be considered a work-related condition?

This is a difficult question to answer at this time. Generally, those who work in the healthcare or first responder fields are likely to receive coverage for illnesses contracted during the normal course of their work duties. Typically, a worker only needs to prove that their injury illness occurred at work or during the course of their work-related duties. Right now, it is unclear as to whether or not COVID-19 will be classified as a workplace injury or occupational disease. It could be argued that coronavirus will fit this description if:

  • The worker contracted the illness during the course of their employment, and
  • The illness arose out of a condition peculiar to the work that created a risk of contracting the illness to a greater degree and in a different manner than general public exposure.

When we look at these definitions, it is clear healthcare workers should qualify for workers’ compensation. But what about other employees listed as “essential” during this crisis? Surely those who work in the grocery store, bank, and pharmacy should be covered. How about delivery drivers, armored vehicle carriers, and law enforcement personnel?

This pandemic has created an unprecedented situation for workers’ compensation laws, and our team will be monitoring this situation closely.

2. What if a worker contracted COVID-19 on a business trip?

While most business travel has ceased due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there are many workers who may have been exposed before travel restrictions were imposed. Under workers’ compensation laws, employees are generally covered for injuries that occur while they are performing their work duties, including those on business trips. However, please refer to the question above concerning whether or not COVID-19 will be covered in these instances.

3. When should you file a workers’ compensation claim for COVID-19?

In general, California law requires that workers report their injury to their employer within 30 days. Our guidance has always remained the same concerning this situation – report the injury to your employer as soon as you know you have been harmed. With so much confusion surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, it is never too early to begin your workers’ compensation claim. If your claim is denied, or if the employer or insurance carrier question whether or not your illness was contracted during the course of your work duties, you may need to speak to a qualified workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.

4. What is the main workplace safety guidance to follow for COVID-19?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released guidance on what steps employers can take to protect their employees. This guidance has divided work operations into various risk zones based on the likelihood of an employee being exposed to the virus.

Employers should thoroughly examine these OSHA guidelines in order to determine which practices and precautions to implement for their workers. In general, employers are responsible for taking steps to keep their employees safe from known harm. COVID-19 is a known harm, and employers should be taking steps to keep employees safe based on their risk of exposure. A failure to do so could result in the employer being held liable for unnecessarily risking the health of their workers.

5. What happens when stay at home order are lifted?

At some point, stay at home orders will be lifted, and people will begin to return to work, including non-essential workers and those who have been out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, this does not mean that COVID-19 will simply go away. Most health experts are predicting that a second, though less severe, outbreak will occur during the fall and winter.

This means that workers will still face risks of contracting COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. Workers’ compensation laws should adapt to help workers who contract this illness during the course of their work duties.

6. Do I have to work if I have symptoms of COVID-19 but have not been tested?

Right now, the CDC has issued guidelines that recommend employers send workers home who become sick with coronavirus symptoms (including fever, shortness of breath, cough). Please understand that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is currently interpreting employment laws relating to disabilities during this pandemic a bit differently. Consult the Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans With Disabilities Act for further information on this topic.

7. What kind of compensation is available for these claims?

If you or somebody you love has contracted COVID-19 while in the course of their work duties, please seek legal assistance immediately. At DiMarco Araujo Montevideo, our qualified and experienced team is ready to get to work investigating a case. Our goal is to secure any compensation you are entitled to, which can include:

  • All medical bills related to COVID-19
  • Any lost income and benefits you incur
  • Coverage of any lost future earnings
  • Compensation for loss of earning potential

This is an ever-changing situation for California workers and employers. As workers’ compensation laws and interpretations continue to adjust during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we will strive to keep our readers updated. When you need a COVID-19 workers’ compensation attorney in California, you can contact us for a free consultation by clicking here or by calling (714) 783-2205.

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Covid 19 Update: We are accepting new cases and we handle everything electronically and remotely, so our clients never have to leave their homes.