Essential workers who continue to work during the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic have always had legitimate concerns about contracting the virus themselves. While others are able to stay home and minimize their chances of exposure to the deadly virus, essential workers in various fields keep clocking in and upping their chances of coming into contact with an infected person or surface.
In case an essential, frontline worker does get diagnosed with or show signs of COVID-19, California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed an executive order to make collecting workers’ compensation benefits afterward easier. Rather than requiring workers to prove that their coronavirus exposure happened in the workplace to get their workers’ compensation claims approved, the legal shift requires insurance companies to prove that the exposure did not happen in the workplace to deny a claim.
In specific, Governor Newsom’s executive order enacts a rebuttable presumption that presumes a worker filing a workers’ compensation claim for COVID-19 contracted the disease while on the job. The order covers all essential service workers and will be applied retroactively beginning March 19th, 2020, the date of Governor Newsom’s first shelter-in-place order. Workers’ compensation benefits covered under the order include temporary disability for up to two years, permanent disability benefits for any long-term/permanent injuries or disability caused by COVID-19, and death benefits including $10,000 in funeral expenses and anywhere between $120,000 to $250,000 or more (depending on the number of minor dependents at the time of death). The order also shortens the time employers have to accept claims from 90 days to 30 days, significantly expediting the processing of benefits for sick workers.
Of note, claimants must test positive for COVID-19 and must have worked within the prior 14 days upon receiving the diagnostic test to qualify for the updated workers’ compensation benefits. Workers who were diagnosed with coronavirus symptoms and were tested positive within the next 30 days are also eligible. Counties throughout California are offering free coronavirus testing, many at drive-thru, contactless centers. Any essential worker who is concerned they may have contracted the coronavirus is encouraged to locate a nearby testing location. Calling ahead is important in case appointments and added precautions are necessary.
To learn more about the recent legal update to coronavirus workers’ compensation claims, you can click here to view a full article from the Los Angeles Times. (Log-in and subscription may be required.) For legal assistance when filing for workers’ compensation as an essential worker in Los Angeles, you can schedule a free initial consultation with Levin & Nalbandyan, LLP. Our attorneys can provide legal counsel throughout the entire filing process, as well as representation in case your claim is unfairly denied. Call (213) 232-4848 now.