The rising costs of the COVID-19 pandemic have been higher than anticipated. In many places across the country, including California, families are still dealing with the spread of the deadly virus and are counting the days until they can obtain their dose of the vaccine. The pandemic has taken a toll on many of us, but frontline workers and essential employees have experienced the worst aspects of this virus and continue to do so every day.
From factory workers to healthcare professionals, essential workers are asking themselves if they will be protected by their employer in the event that they contract COVID-19 in the workplace and how it will affect their ability to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.
The CDC, known as the Center for Disease Control, has stated that the best way to protect yourself from contracting the COVID-19 virus is to wash your hands, maintain a distance of six feet from others, wear a mask when you are in public, and remain at home and avoid gathering in groups of people who don’t live in your household whenever possible. For many workers across the country, many of these protocols are not an option.
Millions of people who retained their jobs through the beginning of lockdown were given the title of “essential employees,” meaning that their roles were pivotal to the success of the company they worked for or they provided a necessary service to their community. This included not only first responders, firefighters, and pediatricians, but also gas station attendants, delivery drivers, and many other roles in which an individual cannot fully avoid interacting with the public.
As a result of their essential role, many of these workers are at a higher risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus. While many jobs in California ensured that there were security measures in place to reduce the risk of potential exposure, including providing hand sanitizer and social distancing protocols within the workplace, these employees are still in the line of fire when it comes to possibly becoming infected.
As a direct result of the high risk that many frontline and essential workers face as a result of the pandemic, California passed Assembly Bill 664. This legislation introduced more robust protection for those who face a higher chance of contracting the virus, such as frontline nurses and other individuals who put their safety at risk for the sake of their jobs.
Ordinarily, if someone is injured or hurt at their place of employment and they wish to obtain workers’ compensation, they must prove that the injury did take place where they work and that their damages are severe before a court for insurance purposes. The introduction of this bill means that healthcare workers will not have to prove that they contracted COVID-19 in their workplace in order to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. This speeds up the process of compensation recovery in many cases.
As previously discussed, individuals who are considered essential workers have a higher chance of contracting the COVID-19 virus. If this unfortunate circumstance happens as a result of an employee’s proximity to individuals who are already infected, there are a few different options available.
The first step is to speak with your employer and fill out a claim for workers’ compensation. The sooner that this is completed, the better. Although your company’s insurance company may not ask you to prove that you came down with the virus while at work, there may be other protocols that they require, such as documentation from your medical provider.
If an employee is hospitalized due to contracting COVID-19 while on the job or a doctor states that they are not in a condition to work for more than three days, they could be eligible for temporary disability. This means that they would receive payments for up to 104 weeks at two-thirds of their regular wages. Many times, these payments are used to cover the cost of medical expenses such as medication, therapy, and hospital visit bills.
Essential workers have been the backbone of our country throughout the entire year of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are an essential worker who contracted the virus on the job or you know someone who has, you should immediately contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in California to walk you through the process of obtaining the financial assistance that you deserve.
Don’t go another day waiting to file your claim or get your compensation. Reach out to the experienced legal team at KCNS Law Firm and let us help you fight for your rights. Give us a call at (818) 937-9255 or contact us online to find out more information about how you can schedule a free case consultation with one of our legal experts.