As the world continues to battle the novel coronavirus, one thing is obvious, it’s not going away. It’s been over a year since the world was upended, and the battle with the disease rages on, and in some areas, cases continue to rise. In December, there were a record 32,549 workers’ compensation cases in California. The total number of COVID-19 related cases in 2020 was 103,712. As claims continue to be filed, forecasts continue to show upward trends. At last count, COVID-19 related claims were up 29.3% from previous months. The COVID-19 overall impact on the economy and businesses continues to be fluid, but it’s already obvious to many researchers that the virus will have a tremendous impact on workers’ compensation claims.
How Covid-19 Complicates Workers’ Compensation Issues
Workers across the country are wondering if they will be covered if they contract Covid-19, and the answer is, it’s complicated. Many of the decisions about Covid-19 related workers’ compensation claims are determined at the state level. Another complication stems from what illnesses have been covered in the past. Generally, workers’ compensation claims do not cover illnesses spread via close contact and communal gatherings because they cannot be connected to a workplace. The idea in the past was that workers could have contracted illnesses like the flu from a store or restaurant and not work. Lastly, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we view some jobs. Employees whose jobs were once considered safe have been recategorized as hazardous, high-risk labor. Workers like nurses, grocery store employees, and package handlers have all found they are front-line or essential employees.
How California Plans to Respond to Covid-19 Workers’ Compensation Claims
California has ordered employers to acknowledge that essential workers are at an increased risk of exposure to Covid-19, and workers’ compensation benefits should apply. This is a departure as many other states have limited workers’ compensation coverage to only frontline workers. Some states have not made any changes to their workers’ compensation policy. Each state has needed to scramble to create a Covid-19 policy, especially during states still dealing with lockdowns. Workers’ compensation provides an important safety net for employees working in jobs where exposure to Covid-19 is likely. The insurance program provides lost wages, reduced legal costs, and medical coverage at no cost to employees. In the event of death from a qualified and covered condition, the worker’s family would qualify for death benefits.
Workers’ Compensation Free Consultation
If you feel like you’ve suffered an injury at work or you’ve contracted Covid-19 at work, contact our Elk Grove workers’ compensation attorneys today. At Samra Dhillon & Associates, we are dedicated to helping workers and their families work through the details of their case to gain the benefits they are owed. Contact us now at (916) 571-1550 to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation.