On March 4, 2020, California’s Governor Newsom proclaimed a statewide State of Emergency. In the following weeks, many workers were uncertain of how they would be able to pay for essentials, including food and rent. Many families were affected by the pandemic, and numerous forms of relief and deferment were introduced.
The state is preparing to enter Stage 2 of its plan to reopen on May 8, 2020. In response to the expected spike in positive coronavirus cases, Governor Newsom issued an executive order that would allow affected workers to collect worker’s compensation in the event they contract the illness.
The order contains important distinctions. We have provided a quick summary below:
Employees who contract Covid-19 due to the nature of their jobs can receive worker’s compensation. They must have tested positive for the illness within 14 days of the individual working at their places of employment at the employer’s direction. They must have been affected on or after March 19, 2020. They must not have been engaged in work-from-home orders, or their employment location must not have been their place of residence. They must have been diagnosed by a licensed physician or surgeon on the California Medical Board, and the diagnosis must have been confirmed with additional testing up to 30 days after the initial date.
Individuals who fit these criteria have up to 60 days from the date of the order to act. They will be eligible for hospital fees, surgical fees, medical treatment costs, temporary and permanent disability indemnity, and death benefits.
Employees Likely Afflicted with Covid-19
An extremely large number of businesses shut down or suspended operations once the stay-at-home orders went into effect. Retail outlets, bars, music shops, law offices, and more all had operations cease, but grocery stores, hospitals, restaurants, and sanitation services, amongst others, were not suspended; they were instead deemed essential. These locations all have employees that come in some sort of contact with customers and the public, whether in take-out scenarios or as cashiers.
The issue with these jobs is that there are essentially no regulations outside of mandated facemasks and a minimum social distancing amount. The transfer of money, assistance with goods, treatment for illness, and more means that these workers will be exposed to the public in large numbers and are not able to adequately protect themselves by isolating for long periods. Each interaction with people means there is an increased risk of infection.
Worker’s Compensation Benefits
There are numerous kinds of benefits that come with worker’s compensation. In the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, workers can receive the following:
- Medical care: You can receive reasonable medical treatment from a doctor if you suffer work-related injuries. Medical care can include ongoing treatment, surgery, and more. It is illegal for medical facilities to bill workers if the injury may be related to employment. It is required that you go to your employer’s medical provider network and get assessed by one of their doctors, unless you predesignated your own doctor beforehand.
- Temporary disability benefits: Temporary disability awards you two-thirds of your gross wages, but you cannot earn more than the weekly amounts set by the law. If your job provides you with food, lodging, tips, bonuses, commission, overtime, and more, you should include this information on your claim. Disability goes into effect if a doctor determines that you cannot work for more than 3 consecutive days. In the case of the Covid-19 pandemic, the illness may sideline you for days or weeks, first from treatment and then with isolation to prevent spreading the disease. Temporary disability ceases when you return to work or when your doctor clears you for work. You may also stop receiving disability if your doctor says that your injury will heal as much as it is going to.
- Permanent disability benefits: Permanent disability differs from temporary disability in the amount of time it takes you to return to work and in the ongoing effects of the injury. It is still too early to tell how much of an effect Covid-19 will have on the long-term health of people. Some individuals may be permanently damaged and have lung issues, heart troubles, and other respiratory woes.
- Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits: Disabled individuals who do not receive regular, modified, or alternative work can receive a $6000 voucher to be used at California public schools or other accredited training providers. This will allow individuals to get the proper training to resume work at another location or get a job outside of their career field.
- Death benefits: Death benefits are awarded to families of individuals who died as a result of their injuries at the workplace. The amount of dependents the deceased had will directly affect the amount that can be awarded. $10,000 will be allotted for burial fees, and $250,000 for 1 dependent; $290,000 for 2 dependents; $320,000 for 3 or more dependents; and more.
For more information about these worker’s compensation benefits, you can reach out to one of our attorneys. We will walk you through the entire process and give you the necessary information about claims, expenses, medical reviews, and more. If you need to take legal action against your employer for violating the order issued by the State of California, or if your employer has in any affected your collection of worker’s compensation, contact our law offices today.
Employer Actions Against Worker’s Compensation
Many employers do not want to pay worker’s compensation benefits to their workers, even if the workers were injured on the job. In California, an individual can collect worker’s compensation solely if he were injured at work. The injury does not have to come about as a direct result of his responsibilities or duties. With the Covid-19 pandemic, many more workers are being exposed to a virus that can completely erase their capabilities to work. They will not be able to return to their jobs for some time so as to reduce the risk of infecting others and spreading the illness.
A few ways your employer could affect your worker’s compensation include:
- Demanding that you work through your injuries or illness
- Rejecting a doctor’s recommendations that you do not work
- Deliberately lower, modify, or later the amount of compensation you receive
- Intentionally removing some forms of benefits
- Refusing to pay you based on some form of discrimination
Additional Compensation from Suing Your Employer for Violating Worker’s Compensation
In addition to all of the previously listed benefits for worker’s compensation, affected workers could also sue for lost income. This will offset the amount of money they were supposed to earn while not working, especially if their wages were cut or reduced. It is also possible to pursue pain and suffering damages or punitive damages, which would be enacted against a company that deliberately or intentionally harms the worker or acts with gross negligence.
You should not settle for less than what you deserve if your employer was directly responsible for you contracting the coronavirus. Our team of attorneys will gladly work to win you every penny you need to cover necessary bills and expenses.
Choosing Our Firm
The Downtown LA Law Group recognizes that many employers are cutting corners and mistreating their workers so that they can remain afloat during the pandemic. The tendencies of these businesses can undermine an entire system and can result in the mistreatment of dozens, if not hundreds, of workers. Ur lawyers will not hesitate to intervene and sue your employer on your behalf if you were affected by the coronavirus and your worker’s compensation benefits were delayed or refused.
To receive a free legal consultation, call our law offices. We will look over your case and determine if you are able to take legal action. All consultations are completely confidential – none of your private details, work details, or any other contents of your visit will not be shared outside of our office walls.
We will also give you a free second opinion on your case if you are already being represented by an attorney. Some lawyers simply want to move quickly from case to case and not give you the dedication you deserve. If you are dissatisfied with the actions of your current legal representative, you can come to our firm for a second opinion. We will review your case and tell you if we believe your current attorney is doing all he can to suitably represent you.
Get in touch with the Downtown LA Law Group today if you need to sue your employer for worker’s compensation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.