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Can I Still Collect Workers’ Compensation If My Injury Is Related to COVID-19?

  • Published: December 22, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives. Not only has COVID-19 created countless challenges for state policymakers, but it has also made workers’ compensation claims confusing and challenging to navigate. Many people wonder if they can still collect workers’ compensation if their injury is related to COVID-19.

Whether you can collect workers’ compensation if you have an injury related to COVID-19 is dependent on numerous factors, such as the state you live in and the type of work that you do. To understand if you would be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for a COVID-19 related injury, it would be best to consider speaking with a California workers’ compensation lawyer.

Does Workers’ Comp Cover COVID-19?

In recent months, many people have wanted to know if workers’ compensation covers COVID-19 related injuries and illnesses. Since the disease has only been in existence for a bit more than a year, many states don’t cover injuries related to this disease. The reasoning behind this is that the disease is akin to a routine community-spread illness. In most instances, workers’ compensation does not cover these types of community-spread illnesses.

However, COVID-19 has introduced a unique set of circumstances where many jobs that were not typically seen as dangerous prior to the pandemic have now become hazardous. For example, healthcare workers, grocery store workers, and mass transit operators are at a higher risk of exposure and are thus considered to be working in dangerous conditions. Yet, in most states, working in more hazardous conditions does not automatically mean workers’ compensation will cover workers if they contract COVID-19.

California is one of less than 20 states that has passed state laws that allow workers in specific fields to attain workers’ compensation benefits if they contract COVID-19 while working. These laws will stay in effect until January 1st, 2023.

Who Is Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in California for COVID-19?

The workers covered by the California laws include first responders, healthcare professionals, and other high-risk workers. Additionally, the laws also cover if a worksite experiences a COVID-19 outbreak, as long as the employer has five employees or more. Workers at a site that experiences an outbreak are eligible to collect workers’ compensation in most instances.

To be eligible for workers’ compensation, however, the outbreak needs to have occurred within 14 days and result in a minimum of 4 out of 100 workers testing positive for COVID-19. As is the case with high-risk workers, it will need to be proven that all related coronavirus sick leave has been exhausted before a person can collect temporary disability benefits.

Below are a few of the specific California workers who can collect workers’ compensation. However, only those who have tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of working at their place of employment are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

  • Active peace officers and firefighters
  • Workers who provide in-home support services
  • Emergency service coordinators and medical providers
  • All custodial employees at healthcare facilities who have contact with COVID-19 patients
  • All healthcare employees that work with sick people to provide direct patient care
  • All other healthcare employees that work in a medical facility where there are COVID-19 patients

If you are unsure whether this criteria applies to you, consider consulting with a California workers’ compensation lawyer.

Can You Collect Workers’ Compensation If You Are Not an Employee in the Sectors Covered by the New Law?

Should you not work in the type of workplace listed above, you might still qualify to collect workers’ compensation benefits. However, it will be more difficult, and you will likely want to hire an attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation law.

In most instances, you will need to prove your job involves a specific exposure hazard greater than the risk in the general public. You will also need to prove that you contracted COVID-19 at your workplace from a specific exposure situation that can be identified.

Contact a California Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to Discuss Your COVID-19 Related Injury

Contracting the coronavirus can be an incredibly difficult experience emotionally, physically, and financially. If you seek workers’ compensation benefits because you have or have had the disease, it could be beneficial to speak with a California workers’ compensation lawyer.

You shouldn’t have to suffer while recovering from this deadly disease. That’s why at the KCNS Law Group, we are committed to helping you identify if you are able to collect workers’ compensation benefits. We have more than 40 years of collective legal experience in the workers’ compensation field. To book a consultation, you can call us at (818) 937-9255 or contact us here.

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