The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the way of life for most people throughout the country, and particularly here in California. While many hoped that this health crisis would not last long, the reality is that the pandemic is far from over. At particular risk are those who have to go to work each day, whether because they are essential workers or because they need the income to support themselves and their families. It is important to understand how the workers’ compensation system in California has adjusted since the pandemic began.
How have California’s workers’ comp laws changed for COVID-19?
When the current coronavirus pandemic was in the early stages, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order they created what is called a “rebuttal presumption” for COVID-19 workers’ compensation cases. What this means is that, if an employee contracted COVID-19 during the course of their employment, then the employee would be presumed to have gotten the virus at work.
This is different from how viruses and other illnesses are typically handled by the workers’ compensation system in California. Typically, when somebody contracts a virus that is widely spread through the general public, such as the common influenza, then they would not be eligible to receive workers’ compensation.
Under the new executive order, the rebuttal presumption places the onus on employers to prove that a person did not contract COVID-19 due to their work-related duties. However, the executive order placed the following limitations on these workers’ compensation claims:
- The worker in question must be deemed an essential worker in order to receive the rebuttal presumption for their case.
- The worker in question must have received their COVID-19 diagnosis or tested positive within 14 days after performing work-related duties at a location other than their home (the original executive order applied this to cases arising from March 19, 2020, through July 5, 2020).
- The worker must have received their diagnosis from a licensed physician if they had not yet formally been tested, and this diagnosis must have been confirmed within 30 days through testing.
What kind of compensation is available for these cases?
If you or somebody you care about have become ill with COVID-19 due to going to work, you should speak to an attorney if you have any problem receiving workers’ compensation coverage. You should be entitled to various types of compensation for these cases, including the following:
- Coverage of any COVID-19 medical expenses
- Lost wages and benefits for time away from work
- Possible temporary disability benefits
Under the executive order signed by the governor, a person who meets the qualifications to receive workers’ compensation due to their COVID-19 illness may receive temporary disability payments after exhausting any federal or state COVID-19 paid sick leave benefits. These temporary disability benefits may be available for up to 104 weeks, but they will stop when a person returns to work or when a doctor releases them to work.
A COVID-19 workers’ compensation attorney who understands California law regarding these cases will be an invaluable resource. An Orange County personal injury lawyer will understand the ever-changing laws surrounding COVID-19 and workers’ comp and will work to secure the compensation you are entitled to.