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Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation for COVID-19 in San Bernardino?

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Posted By DAM Firm | April 15 2020 | Workers' Compensation

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected over one million people worldwide, with tens of thousands of deaths reported across several countries. COVID-19, or the coronavirus, has had a major impact on workforces, including employees in San Bernardino and throughout California. This has led many workers to seek income through other sources, such as insurance claims and unemployment benefits. If COVID-19 has interfered with your ability to work, you might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in California. These cases are complicated and often require legal assistance.

Is COVID-19 a Coverable Illness Under Workers’ Compensation?

The California workers’ compensation program covers almost all injuries and illnesses. It issues financial benefits to covered employees who have injuries or illnesses due to job-related tasks. These benefits can include medical coverage, disability benefits and reimbursement for two-thirds lost wages. Workers with COVID-19 and related losses may be eligible for workers’ compensation insurance depending on the situation. Qualifying for benefits requires proof of a few elements:

  • You were working as an eligible employee in San Bernardino under an employer that has workers’ compensation insurance.
  • You have a work-related illness and official diagnosis from a physician, in most cases.
  • You notified your employer of the illness within 30 days.
  • You met California’s deadline for filing an injury claim.

Most workers’ compensation insurance companies in California have named COVID-19 as a coverable illness as long as the employee can prove he or she came into contact with the virus while performing job-related activities, either inside or outside of the place of business. The illness must be occupational for an employee to receive coverage. If you wish to file a workers’ compensation claim for the coronavirus, you or an attorney will need proof supporting your case’s eligibility.

Are You Eligible for Benefits?

If you believe you contracted COVID-19 from interactions related to your occupation, such as meetings with customers or being an essential worker, you might be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits to help you get through this difficult time. In general, it will be easier to qualify for coverage if you are a high-risk worker, such as someone in the health care industry. Most insurance companies are accepting COVID-19 claims from these workers since they have certifiable proof they came into contact with the virus while at work. If you are a worker in a different type of occupation, however, insurance companies are assessing these claims on a case-by-case basis. You might need further proof to support your claim.

How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim for COVID-19

First, look out for possible signs of the coronavirus. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fatigue, fever, aches, pains, runny nose, nasal congestion, dry cough, sore throat, and diarrhea. As soon as you notice possible symptoms or believe you might have contracted the disease, isolate yourself and call your primary care physician for treatment options. Your doctor might recommend that you stay home during recovery unless your symptoms worsen, or that you visit a hospital if you are experiencing signs of a serious health complication. Next, contact your employer. Workers’ compensation insurers in California require employees to notify their employers of work-related injuries and illnesses within at least 30 days.

Tell your employer you wish to file a workers’ compensation claim for your illness. Your employer should fill out and file the Initial Report of Injury Form on your behalf and submit it to the company’s insurance provider. You may need to submit evidence along with the form, such as medical documents or reports from work that help prove you encountered the virus while performing an occupational task. You should hear a response from the insurer within 15 days. If the provider denies your claim, you can file an appeal. If it accepts the claim, you should receive your first benefits check within two weeks.

Do You Need an Attorney’s Help?

As a worker in San Bernardino, California, you might qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if you contracted the coronavirus. If COVID-19 took you out of work and/or cost you money in medical expenses, your employer’s insurance provider might owe you compensation. It may be difficult, however, to convince an insurance provider of your eligibility. For more information, contact a San Bernardino workers’ compensation lawyer near you for legal advice. A lawyer can help you gather evidence, file a workers’ compensation claim and negotiate a fair settlement.