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Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Coronavirus

If you have contracted the coronavirus (COVID-19) at work, you might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

If you believe that you contracted COVID 19 because of exposure to the coronavirus on the job or while traveling for work, you may be wondering if you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits (including wage-loss benefits when you’re in quarantine).

The short answer is that in the State of California, you might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Your chances of success will likely depend on the type of work you do.

The Basic Rule of Workers Compensation:

Workers Compensation: is a statutory benefit system designed to help employees who incur medical, wage loss, and rehabilitation expenses caused by work-related accidents and diseases. Death benefits are also available for the families of employees who pass away as a result of a work accident or illness.

Further, the basic rule requested that you have the burden to show that you contracted the disease at work or while you are working for your employer.

California Governor Gavin Newsom executive order regarding COVID-19

The State of California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order to extend the Workers’ Compensation benefits to all essential employees infected with COVID-19.

The new executive order: There is a rebuttable presumption that anyone who contracts the novel coronavirus while working outside the home as an essential employee will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. In other words, the state will assume that employees got infected on the job unless the employer shows otherwise.

The governor intends in the order to help and include those workers on the front lines such as health care and public safety workers, and aims to provide some peace of mind and to calm and relieve the health care workers who are otherwise wondering and stressed how to protect their health and family in case they are infected with the disease.

The presumption will be applied retroactively to essential employees who have been infected anytime beginning March 19, 2020, the date of Governor Newsom’s first shelter-in-place order, and expire 60 days from the signing of the executive order on May 6.

Remember this is a rebuttable presumption and employers can rebut the claims, but only under “strict” criteria.

The governor also acknowledged the ongoing burden coronavirus has placed on California’s Latinos and black communities, who have been disproportionately hit with the virus and who are also more likely to work as essential employees. According to the Governor the number of infected cases is higher among our black and brown communities due to the type of work they do, which does not allow them to telework, or work from home, basically leaving them working on the front lines.

Exploring Your Options and Getting Help

Employers and their insurance companies will probably fight hard against workers’ comp claims for COVID-19—at least for anyone other than employees in particularly high-risk occupations with clear evidence that they were exposed to an infected person on the job. If you file a claim and are denied at first, you should speak with a qualified workers’ comp attorney from Rawa Law Group who can evaluate your claim and explain how the law applies to your situation.

Meanwhile, however, you have other options for getting more immediate benefits, including emergency paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act or, in California, short-term disability benefits.

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