Cramer and Martinez

Free Consultation408-848-1113

7459 Monterey St., Suite A, Gilroy, CA 95020

Gilroy, CA Attorneys for COVID-19 Workers' Comp Claims

Morgan Hill coronavirus workers' comp attorneys

Lawyers for Employees Who Contract the Coronavirus at Work in Santa Clara County and Surrounding Areas

Even under normal circumstances, California law provides significant protections for employees who are injured, or who contract a disease in the course of their work, by requiring all employers in the state to have workers' compensation coverage. That said, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been anything but normal, and out of recognition for these extraordinary circumstances, Governor Gavin Newsom and the state legislature have enacted policies specifically regarding workers' compensation claims in which the employee has contracted COVID-19 at work.

As these policies are still so new, it can be difficult to understand how they may apply to your case. However, the attorneys at Cramer & Martinez, LLP are committed to keeping abreast of the latest developments in California workers' compensation law, and we are prepared to take your case as you cope with the physical effects and the fear and uncertainty that your condition may bring. In order to ensure your safety and ours, we will stay in touch via telephone and other virtual means of communication while face-to-face contact remains a risk.

Workers' Compensation and the Coronavirus in California

After proclaiming a state of emergency and issuing a stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom took further action in May by issuing Executive Order N-62-20. The purpose of this order was to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the workplace and to ensure that employees who contract COVID-19 at work have access to workers' compensation benefits to cover their necessary medical care and account for the time that they are unable to return to work. The terms of the executive order were further solidified and expanded upon in September 2020, when the California legislature passed Senate Bill 1159.

Under the executive order and SB 1159, COVID-19 is considered to be a work-related illness, and therefore eligible for workers' compensation benefits, if certain conditions are met. There are three major sections of the bill, each of which applies to different circumstances as follows:

  1. Any employees who contracted COVID-19 between March 19 and July 5, 2020. For these employees, a positive test or diagnosis of COVID-19 within 14 days of performing their job at a workplace outside their home under the direction of their employer creates a presumption that the illness is work-related.
  2. Firefighters, police officers, and health care workers who contract COVID-19 on or after July 6, 2020. First responders and health care workers are now presumed to have a work-related COVID-19 condition if they test positive within 14 days of working under the direction of their employer outside of their home.
  3. Any other employees who contract COVID-19 on or after July 6, 2020, after an outbreak at their workplace. COVID-19 is also considered a work-related illness for these employees if they test positive within 14 days of working outside of the home under their employer's direction. The bill defines an outbreak as four or more employees at an employer with 100 total employees or fewer testing positive within 14 days, 4 percent or more of reporting employees at an employer with more than 100 employees testing positive within 14 days, or a workplace being ordered to close by a state or local authority because of a risk of infection. In order for these criteria to apply, the employer has to have at least five employees.

SB 1159 is currently in effect until January 1, 2023, at which point it will no longer apply without further legislation.

Available Benefits for Employees With COVID-19

Employees with a work-related coronavirus condition are entitled to the same types of benefits as any other employees with workers' compensation claims. This includes coverage for all necessary medical care, including hospital stays, surgery, medication, and more. It also may include temporary disability benefits for employees who are unable to work for a time because of their condition, though they will be required to use any paid sick leave granted specifically for COVID-19 before receiving these benefits. If a condition related to COVID-19 permanently impacts an employee's work abilities, permanent disability benefits may also be awarded, and death benefits will be awarded to the family of an employee who dies because of a work-related COVID-19 condition.

However, it is important to note that a claims administrator can still deny a claim related to COVID-19, even with the provisions of SB 1159, by disputing the presumption that the illness was contracted at work. If your claim is denied, you will need to work with your attorney to pursue an appeal in order to have a chance of obtaining the benefits you need.

Contact a Gilroy Workers' Compensation Attorney

In this time of uncertainty, we will be your committed ally as you seek the compensation you need to recover from the often severe effects of COVID-19. Contact us today for a free initial consultation at 408-848-1113 if you believe you contracted the coronavirus at work. We serve clients in Morgan Hill, Gilroy, San Jose, Salinas, Hollister, Los Banos, Watsonville, and throughout Santa Clara County, Monterey County, San Benito County, Santa Cruz County, and the surrounding areas.

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