As a worker in the state of California, it is important to know your legal rights when it comes to workers’ compensation. Having this knowledge becomes even more important during this worldwide pandemic caused by the novel Corona virus. Even if you are working in a position where you are not typically worried about suffering a work injury, you should be aware of your workers’ compensation rights since the virus can be contracted nearly anywhere.

The attorney at Kneisler and Schondel works diligently to stay informed about the latest issues impacting California workers’ compensation cases. If you have recently contracted COVID-19 while working or are concerned that you may have been exposed to the virus at work, contact our office today. We can help you understand the workers’ compensation benefits that you may be eligible for, and we will work hard to fight for the best result in your case.

California Governor Newsom’s Executive Orders and Workers’ Compensation Benefits

If you have a California workers’ compensation case, in order to be successful, you will need to show that your injury or illness arose out of and occurred in the course of your employment. In some cases, it may be hard to prove exactly when the injury or illness occurred, which can lead to a denial of benefits.

Since so much is currently unknown about the transmittal of the COVID-19 virus and how it affects the body, it would seem difficult to prove that the virus was contracted through a COVID-positive patient’s employment. Fortunately, Governor Newsom recognized how difficult it might be to prove the necessary elements of a workers’ compensation case given the limited information about the virus that is currently available.

What Does the Executive Order of May 6, 2020, Mean for Those Who Contract COVID-19 On the Job?

Governor Newsom’s May 6, 2020, executive order establishes that there will be a presumption of work-related COVID-19 exposure if certain conditions are met. For California workers’ compensation cases, this presumption means that the employee who satisfies these elements will be presumed under the law to have contracted the virus through their employment—and, therefore, will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

An employee who has contracted COVID-19 and wants to make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits pursuant to the May 6, 2020, executive order must satisfy all of the following conditions in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits:

  • The California employee was either diagnosed with COVID-19 or tested positive for the virus within a 14-day time period after the employee performed services or labor at the employee’s place of employment, and at the employer’s direction;
  • The day of the suspected exposure to the COVID-19 virus was on or after March 19, 2020;
  • The employee’s place of employment was not at that employee’s residence or home; and
  • A diagnosis of COVID-19 can only be made by a physician who holds either a surgeon or physician license issued by the California Medical Board—and this diagnosis must also be confirmed by a positive COVID-19 diagnostic test within 30 days of the date of the diagnosis.

At this time, the executive order is set to expire on July 5, 2020, which is 60 days from the date that Governor Newsom signed the executive order. However, it is possible for the expiration date of the order to be extended, or for another similar executive order to be signed and enacted moving forward.

The Future for California Employees and Employers Regarding COVID-19 Related Workers’ Compensation Cases

Presently, there is not enough known about the COVID-19 virus to completely stop the spread of it and cure those infected. No one knows exactly what the future may hold when it comes to this virus, so we can expect some changes to be made as to how COVID-19 infections and workers’ compensation cases are handled as more information becomes available.

The California Legislature is currently working on proposing multiple bills related to COVID-19 exposure and workers’ compensation. Some of these bills are focused on healthcare and other frontline workers who are typically at a greater risk of exposure than those in other areas of employment. There are also some bills being proposed that impact all California employees as a whole.

If you are worried that you have contracted the COVID-19 virus while at work in California, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits right now. Contact Kneisler & Schondel today at 707-542-5132 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation to meet with our attorney and learn more about the benefits you may be eligible to receive.