Can I Get Workers Comp for Coronoavirus (Covid-19)?
As the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic continues to spread across Los Angeles, California and the rest of the country, many “essential” employees are still being asked to report to work amidst the Covid-19 outbreak.
Tragically, this means that there are already several reported cases of workers contracting the coronavirus on the job – with many more anticipated to be diagnosed. From healthcare providers, to delivery drivers, to grocery store and warehouse workers, many employees are still at risk of getting the coronavirus in their workplace.
As a result, many employees have begun to ask our attorneys if they can they collect workers’ compensation if they contract the coronavirus at work. The simple answer is: maybe. If an employee is able to prove that their illness is work-related they are eligible for workers’ comp due to the coronavirus.
Generally, in most cases, contracting any flu would not be considered a work-related injury or condition that entitled the employee to workers comp benefits. But, Governor Newsom has released an Executive Order that now makes it easier for employees to collect workers comp for coronavirus (Covid-19).
Who Is Covered by Workers Comp for Coronavirus (Covid-19)
Proving that any illness is work-related can always present some problems for sick employees. And, in addition to workers comp insurers trying to deny these claims, there are also certain other exceptions that may prevent a worker from collecting workers comp for Covid-19.
To be work-related any illness or disease – including coronavirus – must be ‘occupational.’ This means that the illness arose out of – i.e. “was in the course and scope” – of the employment. Put another way, the illness must be caused by conditions “particular to the work” or “inherent to the employment itself.”
Typically any type of cold, flu or other communicable disease is NOT considered to be “occupational” or work-related. However, for employees whose work is directly related to coronavirus – doctors, nurses, testing lab workers, first responders, medical office and hospital staff – workers’ comp likely will cover employees who contract the disease.
But what about other “essential workers” who are required to work on the front lines during the pandemic – such as grocery store clerks, or Amazon warehouse workers?
Generally, to file a workers’ comp claim, workers typically are required to meet three specific criteria:
- An increased occupational risk of contracting the disease due to their role
- The worker could not have contracted the disease elsewhere
- The worker can identify a specific point of contact or event that led to their contraction of the disease/injury
As you can see, these requirements could be difficult to meet in cases of coronavirus. For this reason (and because the situation is so rapidly evolving) there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer as to whether you will be covered by Workers Comp for coronavirus contracted on the job. However, new rules by Govern Newsom have made collecting workers comp for coronavirus much easier.
(NOTE for Federal Workers: the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Workers’ Compensation has announced that a federal employee who contracts the coronavirus while in performance of their job duties will have full Federal Employees’ Compensation Act coverage for medical treatment and lost wages or disability.)
California Leads the Way in Workers Comp for Coronavirus
A few states – like Washington have already addressed this issue. Washington issued guidelines stating: “[i]n most cases, exposure and/or contraction of Covid-19 is not considered to be an allowable, work-related condition.” However they have issued express exceptions for healthcare workers.
But employees in 5 states – including California – are covered under mandatory short-term and long-term disability protection for coronavirus. As of March 16, 2020, California indicated that it will allow workers impacted by the coronavirus to use their disability benefits for the disease.
Further, Governor Gavin Newsom has waived the one week waiting period for those unemployed or disabled as a result of Covid-19. He recently tweeted that: “If a medical professional says you’re unable to work … you can file a claim.”
Governor Newsom also announced a temporary new rule stating that any employee working outside of their home (on/after the March 19th stay-at-home order) who contracts Covid-19 disease will be “presumed” to have been made ill by their work. This means that employees have “automatically” proven that their coronavirus was “work related” – paving the way for the possibility of a workers comp claim approval for Covid-19.
Who Is NOT Covered by Workers Comp for Coronavirus (Covid-19)
Keep in mind, however, that independent contractors (1099 employees) are not covered by workers comp – for any illnesses including Covid-19.
And, if you were not at work during the stay-at-home order, and your coronavirus was contracted from a family member, a social gathering, or other non-work related means you do not qualify for workers comp for Covid-19.
Covid-19 Laws Rapidly Changing
This pandemic is a fluid and rapidly changing situation – and that lawmakers are scrambling to change and adapt laws to meet the needs of their constituents during this difficult time.
But, as with any workers compensation case, the assistance and counsel of an experienced workers compensation attorney can help expedite the workers compensation process, while ensuring that everything is being done to give you the best chance of receiving the maximum workers comp benefits for which you qualify.
Attorneys for Workers Comp for Coronavirus (Covid-19)
If you are a health care worker or a first responder please know our attorneys respect, admire and greatly appreciate the service you have offered our community during the Covid-19 outbreak. If your workers comp benefits have been denied for any reason, please contact our experienced workers comp attorneys by phone.
And if you are another worker who is “essential” and therefore are required to work on the front lines during the outbreak, we are grateful for your courage and dedication. And we may also be able to assist you in obtaining workers comp benefits if you contract Covid-19.
As always, our workers comp attorneys will keep abreast of the changing laws and legal guidelines pertaining to the coronavirus (Covid-19) situation. Please stay safe, socially distanced or quarantined, and healthy. Our attorneys are here to answer your workers comp questions by phone during this difficult and unprecedented situation.
Long Beach Workers Compensation Attorneyss
If you were injured or made ill in the workplace by Covid-19 or anything else, we recommend that you speak with an experienced workers comp attorney immediately.
An experienced workers compensation attorney can help you identify minor issues before they become major problems – and make sure that you not only receive your benefits now, but for years to come.
Your consultation with our workers’ comp attorneys is 100% confidential, and neither your employer nor your insurance company will be notified that you requested a consultation with us. Our attorneys will help you understand your rights and work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the maximum workers’ comp benefits for which you qualify.
Call our Workers Compensation Attorneys: 800-964-8047