All California employers with one or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. An employee becomes eligible for workers’ compensation benefits when he or she is injured in the course of their employment. However, these rules do not just cover injuries. They also include occupational illnesses and cumulative traumas. If you suspect a work-related exposure or illness, you should file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer.
In this era of COVID-19, exposed employees may have a valid claim for workers’ compensation benefits. For example, consider a nurse who is alleging that he or she was contaminated by the COVID-19 virus while working at a hospital caring for patients with varying degrees of COVID-19. He or she has been tested and is positive for the virus. Does he or she have a valid workers’ compensation claim?
There are two hurdles a worker must overcome. First, he or she is required to prove that the illness arose from causes that are characteristic of the trade or place of employment. Then, he or she must also prove that the nature of the work materially contributed to contracting and developing symptoms from the COVID-19 virus.
Healthcare workers or anyone else who works at a hospital are at a higher risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus because they are becoming rapidly populated by COVID-19 patients who transmit the virus to uninfected patients and employees. Hospitals recognize this danger. It is medically and legally foreseeable, and they are actively working at preventing transmission. The two occupational disease hurdles mentioned in the preceding paragraph are now lower for healthcare workers, especially if they work with patients who are infected with the COVID-19 virus. It is far more foreseeable that a COVID-19 infection will be transmitted to a healthcare employee working with infected patients than to a construction worker or office employee.
After surviving COVID-19, there is strong evidence that some survivors suffer permanent lung damage. Under California’s workers’ compensation law, that may entitle a worker infected with COVID-19 to monetary compensation. Insurance companies will often try to negotiate a lump sum amount of compensation for any disability stemming from a compensable injury or illness.
In almost all cases, an injured worker will get the best possible outcome by hiring an experienced and aggressive workers’ compensation lawyer. Pratt Williams, A Professional Law Corporation focuses on Workers’ Compensation Law and can assist you in getting the compensation you are entitled to. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation.