COVID 19 (Coronavirus) – Straight Talk About Your Workers’ Compensation Rights
Insurance company lawyers are already coming up with strategies for employers so they can avoid their responsibility for COVID 19 exposure at the workplace. Disinformation abounds.
Here is what you need to know about your potential rights:
Were you exposed to COVID 19 at work?
You might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if your job placed you at higher risk than the general public for exposure to the virus. Those on the front line of the battle against COVID 19, doctors, nurses, lab workers, and ambulance drivers are good examples.
But what if you are not a first responder? Are you still potentially entitled to workers’ compensation protections? Potentially, yes.
Workers who are not staying home due to the Governor’s order are all potentially at higher risk for exposure to COVID 19 because of the nature of their work – grocery, transportation, and warehouse workers are all examples of workers that may be eligible for workers compensation protections.
Workers Compensation Benefits for COVID 19
Fortunately, it appears that people sickened by the disease recover without any special treatment (about 80%). In those cases, a worker may be entitled to a short period of temporary disability payments while recovering.
In more serious cases, however, the injured worker may be entitled to the full range of workers’ compensation benefits, including medical treatment, weekly temporary disability payments, permanent injury compensation, and lifetime future medical care.
Coronavirus / COVID 19 Death Claim
Unfortunately, work-related deaths have already occurred as a result of COVID 19. The dependents of the deceased worker only need to prove that the workplace exposure to COVID 19 contributed to the death, even though there may have been other factors involved. The death benefit amount depends on the number of dependents and other factors.
Each case deserves individualized analysis. While this is a rapidly evolving situation, I hope that I have provided you some clarity about your potential rights in the California Workers’ Compensation system during this difficult time.