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Do Workers with HIV Get Compensation?

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The California workers’ compensation system provides benefits to all employees who suffer injuries or illnesses on the job. When it comes to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), however, workers may have a harder time recovering compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, disabilities, and other damages. Here’s a look at occupationally-acquired HIV and the battles employees might face when trying to obtain workers’ compensation or personal injury claim benefits in California.

If you’re looking for information on a specific case or instance, contact a workers compensation attorney in Orange County now.

HIV in an Occupational Setting

HIV is an incurable virus that takes over cells in the body’s immune system. HIV forces cells to produce copies of viruses, which then infect other cells. People who are HIV positive therefore have weaker immune systems and a harder time staying healthy. HIV can infect new hosts by getting inside the blood cells. HIV can spread if the HIV-positive blood, breast milk, vaginal fluids, or semen of one person enters the body of another person. Certain occupations, such as those in the medical or adult film industry, are at risk of contracting HIV on the job.

A nurse may contract HIV from a positive patient if he or she accidentally sticks him/herself with the same needle used on the patient. The issue of occupationally-acquired HIV and workers’ compensation for nurses has been a topic of conversation for years – from a Health Law and Ethics article published in 1997 to the case of one nurse, Elsa Roberts, who filed a claim after an HIV scare on the job in 2015. Although Roberts did not in fact contract HIV, she filed claims for her emotional distress and lost wages from missed time at work.

Cases have also arisen in which adult film performers filed workers’ compensation claims for allegedly contracting HIV during video shoots. Filming pornographic videos without condoms or other forms of protection could result in spreading HIV from one performer to others. Spokespeople for this issue claim that studios in the industry punish performers for trying to protect themselves by using condoms. Now, these performers must pay a lifelong price for the negligence of the studio – perhaps without financial compensation.

Does the California Workers’ Comp System Cover HIV?

What rights do workers have after contracting HIV while performing job-related duties? In California, the workers’ compensation system does in fact name HIV on the list of conditions that make applicants eligible for up to 240 weeks of temporary total disability payments. Workers who contract HIV could be eligible for two-thirds of their average weekly wages (up to the state-mandated maximum) for up to 240 weeks. They may also qualify for additional compensation payments, including coverage for medical expenses.

If you contracted HIV while on the job, file a workers’ compensation claim just as you would for any other injury, illness, or condition in California. First, report the incident to your employer or supervisor. Then, seek medical attention to verify whether or not you contracted HIV. Keep copies of your report, medical records, missed time at work, bills, and other things relating to your claim. Have your employer file the proper injury report with its workers’ compensation insurance company. Then, contact a  workers’ compensation lawyer for assistance.

An attorney can help you with the claims filing process, as well as go up against your employer or its insurance company should you receive a denial of your claim. Whether you actually contracted HIV or wish to recover losses from emotional distress stemming from a scare through a personal injury lawsuit, a lawyer can assist you. A lawyer can also help if you become the victim of workplace discrimination because of your status as an HIV positive individual. People with HIV have worker rights in the state of California. Learn more by contacting the personal injury lawyers at DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo today.