essential workers

Essential workers in California who contract COVID-19 while working have been given some additional protections under California workers’ compensation law. California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order that allows for a time-limited rebuttable presumption that may help essential workers receive workers’ compensation benefits sooner.

If you believe you have contracted the COVID-19 virus while at work, the attorney at Kneisler and Schondel can help. Contact our office today to learn more about the workers’ compensation benefits that you may be eligible to receive.

Governor Newsom’s Executive Order of May 6, 2020

The recent executive order signed by Governor Newsom allows for essential workers diagnosed with COVID-19 with a positive test within 14 days of performing work duties at their place of employment after the stay-at-home order was issued on March 19, 2020, to be presumed eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. This rebuttable presumption that the virus is a work-related illness will remain in place for 60 days after the executive order was issued.

The goal of this aspect of the executive order is to remove a burden for California workers on the front lines who are risking their own health and safety. By making the process of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits easier, California essential employees can focus on their recovery. As this is a critical part of reopening the state, essential workers can get the help that they need to get better and continue to serve their communities.

What Does It Mean to Have a Rebuttable Presumption of Eligibility for Benefits?

In any workers’ compensation case, the injured worker will need to show that they suffered the work-related injury or illness in the course of and arising out of their employment. With a rebuttable presumption of eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits, essential employees are assumed to have contracted the virus at work, if certain conditions apply. This prevents an essential worker from having to prove exactly when and where and how they contracted the virus while performing their work duties.

However, employers of essential workers are entitled to challenge the presumption that the virus was contracted in the course of and arising out of the essential worker’s employment. If an employer has evidence that refutes the presumption that the COVID-19 virus was contracted at work, they can challenge the worker’s eligibility for benefits.

What is Telemedicine, and Why Is It Being Used Now?

Due to burdens on the health care system as a result of the virus and also for safety reasons, telemedicine is becoming a safer way to receive medical treatment. The state of California has enacted new state policy actions to increase access to telehealth and telemedicine for patients in need of medical care during the pandemic.

Telemedicine essentially involves a virtual appointment with your doctor, which can be done via your phone or your computer. You can engage in a video chat conference with your physician, where you can explain symptoms and receive medical advice.

The California Telehealth Policy Coalition is an organization with the goal of promoting telehealth and sharing information. Recently, it has been moving toward actively participating in policymaking for telehealth. This resource is helpful for up-to-date information regarding telemedicine in California

The Benefits of Using Telemedicine

There are many benefits to using telemedicine for your healthcare. First and foremost, if you are able to use telemedicine, you can avoid close contact with others, which can help keep you safe from exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Even after the pandemic, there is the added benefit of the convenience of not having to leave your home in order to be seen by your doctor.

With telemedicine, you may have better access to specialists and may be able to get appointments sooner than you would with a conventional doctor visit. It can also improve patient-centered care and ensure that your concerns are addressed.

For California employees with pending workers’ compensation cases, it may be much easier for them to have virtual appointments with their physicians, rather than having to physically go to the doctor’s office. This eliminates the travel time involved with routine visits and also alleviates the burden of having to use public transportation or rely on friends and family for transportation in the event the injured worker cannot drive due to their condition.

Depending on your type of injury and stage of treatment, you may be able to do brief virtual check-ins and pre-visit screenings, which can also save time and energy. Telemedicine is becoming more and more prevalent, especially during this pandemic. It is becoming more widely used in workers’ compensation cases during these times and offers many benefits to injured workers.