Why Some California COVID-19 Workers’ Comp Claims are Still Being Rejected
In previous articles we explained how any disabling illness -including COVID-19 – that an employee is able to prove is work-related should make them eligible for workers’ compensation. And we discussed Governor Newson’s temporary new rule: those working outside of their homes on or after the March 19th stay-at-home order and who later develop COVID-19 will be favored by a “presumption” that the disease was caused by work.
Yet, many workers comp cases for COVID-19 are still being rejected in the courts. In this article our experienced workers comp attorneys examine why employees who allege they contracted COVID-19 on the job are still facing a high bar in proving their cases and collecting benefits.
Proving COVID-19 was Contracted at Work
When a disease like COVID is caused by an invisible exposure – that could have happened anywhere – it can be particularly difficult to prove that it happened in the workplace. While employees and their attorneys contend that COVID-19 cases are directly linked with job environments, workers’ comp insurance carriers continue to contend that the workers were most likely infected in their off hours.
Insurance carriers expressed fears at the start of the coronavirus pandemic that they would be overwhelmed by COVID-19 workers’ comp claims. And in California, that concern intensified once Governor Newson issued the presumption of eligibility, without requiring workers to prove infections occurred on the job.
But while workers filed hundreds of thousands of virus-related workers comp claims in 2020, the insurance companies also so a huge drop in non-coronavirus claims. This was because COVID-related layoffs, shutdowns and working-from-home dramatically reduced the number of workplace accidents and injuries.
Why Insurers Deny California COVID-19 Workers’ Comp Claims
However, according to several news outlets, the data suggest that insurance carriers are still denying a significant number of workers’ comp claims related to COVID-19, even in states like California with a presumptive-eligibility rule. And while many of these claims are from front-line workers, office workers, airline employees, janitorial staff, and especially retail employees have been hard hit but COVID-19 claim rejections.
One complicating issue is the problem of “long haulers” who may recover from the actual virus itself quickly – but are then left with a host of other disorders. Long term effects of COVID-19 are now believed to include, long-term respiratory and cardiovascular (heart) damage, debilitating fatigue, and even psychosis in certain individuals.
For these individuals and their attorneys, while there is a presumption that the COVID itself was work-contracted – it may be difficult to “prove” that these other “side effects” were a direct result of the COVID and therefore also covered by the workers comp “presumption”. And, since the coronavirus and it’s complications are so new, there is often not the medical data to “back up” these claims.
COVID-19 Workers’ Comp Claims in California
Claims have been denied at higher rates in states that don’t give a “presumption” of automatic workers comp eligibility to workers, according to data collected from several states.
In Texas, where no presumption of eligibility for COVID-19 exists, 45% of claimants with coronavirus claims were denied, according to the state’s Department of Insurance.
However, even in California, which has perhaps the broadest “presumption” of eligibility for certain lines of work, 26% of the filed coronavirus 3,470 claims were still denied!
Experienced California COVID-19 Workers Comp Attorneys
If you are applying for Social Security Disability based on COVID-19, your case can be strengthened by hiring an experienced workers comp attorney who understands how examiners consider medical evidence.
Our experienced California COVID-19 Workers Comp Attorneys understand the Governs “presumption” order, as well as how to compile the documentation you need to successfully collect the benefits to which you are entitled.
The attorneys at Cantrell Green have already helped many coronavirus sufferers and “long haulers” in California collect the maximum amount of Workers Compensation benefits to which they are entitled. If you were disabled by COVID-19, or any other disability contracted in the workplace, call our California COVID-19 Workers Comp Attorneys today.
California COVID-19 Workers Comp Attorney: 800-964-8047