The Practical Guide to COVID-19 and Workers’ Compensation

Were you or a loved one exposed to novel coronavirus at work?  If you believe that to be true, then workers’ compensation (WC) benefits may be available to you or your loved ones.

The WC system delivers benefits to those who suffer an injury at work, including exposure to COVID-19.  These benefits include, but are not limited to: 

  • Medical treatment to help you get better or feel better from your exposure
  • Replacement wages while you are recovering; and
  • If you suffered a permanent residual problem such as respiratory or coronary impairment, compensation for that loss.  In the tragic event that you or a loved one dies from the exposure, then there is a financial safety net for your spouse and dependents.
  • Burial expenses and death benefits for financial dependents who lost a loved due to the COVID-19.

There are several actions that you should immediately pursue if you believe you or a loved one contracted or died from COVID-19 at work, in this specific order: 

  • Immediately report any exposure to your employer.  It is imperative that as soon as you suspect that COVID-19 may have been contracted due to work activities, the employer and its WC carrier must be put on notice of your claim. 
  • Immediately seek treatment.  Once you’ve reported your injury to your employer, you are entitled to medical treatment up to $10,000 while the WC carrier investigates your WC claim.  The WC carrier has up to 90 days to determine if it will accept coverage.
  • Immediately apply for State Disability Insurance (SDI) with the Employment Development Department (EDD) if you are missing time from work to help you or your family financially while you wait for the WC Carrier to accept responsibility. 
  • Immediately consult with an attorney who is certified as a WC specialist.  The consultation is free and without charge to you.  The WC specialist will go over the facts of your claim to determine if you need legal assistance to pursue benefits, and whether they may be other sources of benefits available to you.