Workers’ compensation not only provides benefits after job-related injuries, but also job-related illnesses. People who get sick because they are exposed to toxins at work are able to have their medical care covered and obtain partial wage replacement for missed work. During our current pandemic, it is expected that workers might wonder whether they can file a workers’ compensation claim if they believe they contracted COVID-19 from exposure at work.
Exposure to COVID-19
By now, everyone should know that the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is highly contagious. However, many businesses throughout California stayed open for days or weeks after the outbreak started, and employees at essential businesses are still reporting to work. Even if everyone in your household is isolating themselves, you can still be exposed at work if you come in contact with others on the job. If you contract the virus, you could argue that it is a work-related illness that should be covered by workers’ compensation. That being said, the road to obtaining benefits might be a rocky one, and you certainly want to have the help of an experienced California workers’ compensation attorney from the start.
Obstacles to Receiving Benefits for COVID-19
There are several reasons why obtaining workers’ compensation benefits might be difficult for COVID-19, and these include the following.
People can contract COVID-19 from being close to someone with the virus in any environment or from touching any contaminated item and then transferring the virus to your face. If you are going to work, you are likely also encountering others outside of your workplace. This means it can be difficult to prove that you were exposed on the job and not elsewhere.
Getting tested and treated
Currently, tests for coronavirus are scarce in
the United States. There are high standards for getting a test, including being
elderly or high-risk. If you are a healthy worker, you might not meet the
standards, and you might not be able to prove that you had COVID-19. In
addition, healthcare facilities are not accepting and treating just anyone with
the virus. Many people are simply sick in their homes, and without a diagnosis,
you cannot prove you had this particular illness. In addition, if you do not
receive treatment, there are no medical expenses for workers’ compensation to
The status of your business – If your business closed after you contracted COVID-19, you might not have had the opportunity to work anyhow. If you could not have earned wages, you are not missing out on earnings due to your illness, and you would not be eligible for wage replacement benefits.
Discuss the Matter with a California Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Just because there are obstacles does not mean that workers’ compensation claims will not be successful for some people who had COVID-19. It is always worth it to discuss your situation with an experienced California workers’ compensation lawyer who can advise you whether you have a possible claim.