At McLaughlin & Sanchez, we are continually reviewing and gathering medical research on the potential long-term effects of a COVID-19 diagnosis so we can better represent our clients. While we sincerely hope we will not need this information, if the day arises where this research and knowledge is necessary for us to represent our clients, we will be prepared.
Below are key questions and answers regarding California’s workers’ compensation law on COVID-19 infections linked to the workplace.
Q: What happened to the law Governor Newsom signed making it presumed a worker who is diagnosed with COVID-19 got COVID-19 at work?
It is accurate that Governor Newsom did sign such an Executive Order under his emergency powers to protect the health, safety, and welfare of California's populous. The law he signed gave a presumption to certain workers that met certain criterion and were diagnosed with COVID-19 between March 19, 2020 through July 5, 2020.
Q: What should I do if I was diagnosed with COVID-19 before March 19, 2020 or after July 5, 2020?
Just because there is not a law stating that your COVID diagnosis was contracted at your place of employment does not mean that you cannot file a claim and attempt to prove that you contracted COVID-19 while at work. Naturally, it will be more difficult to prove without such a presumption, which is why Governor Newsom signed the law when he did.
However, it is not impossible, and a good lawyer could make a strong argument that you contracted COVID-19 while at work depending upon the facts of the situation. Naturally, if any family/household members contracted COVID-19 first, there will be an argument from the insurance company that the worker contracted COVID-19 from his or her family/household members and not from work. This is where a lawyer can assist in helping you to prove your case.
Q: Are there any other laws that will make it easier to show that I got my COVID-19 from my work?
As of the writing of this blog, Senate Bill 1159 was passed by the California legislature and sent to Governor Newsom for his signature. That bill has many of the same provisions Gov. Newsom had in his Executive Order to provide a presumption a worker who is diagnosed with COVID-19 while on the job, contracted it from work.
SB 1159 covers specific workers in particular industries, including peace officers, firefighters, employees of health facilities, nurses, emergency medical personnel, IHSS employees and others. Many of the same criteria set forth in Gov. Newsom's Executive are included in SB 1159, and the legislation also included some additional criterion from Gov. Newsom's original Executive Order.
We do not know Gov. Newsom's intentions with respect to SB 1159, but it is anticipated he will probably sign it into law. He would have until September 30, 2020 to veto the bill, but if he takes no action vetoing it then the matter will automatically become law on September 30, 2020.
SB 1159 would not only cover the period of March 19 through July 5, 2020 but would also continue all the way through the end of calendar year 2022.
At McLaughlin & Sanchez, we are closely watching the status of SB 1159 as well as other legislation which will impact workers' compensation COVID-19 claims. We will be updating all of our clients who are filing COVID-19 workers' compensations claims of the status of legislations submitted to Gov. Newsom when we know if he vetoes or signs into law these bills.
Q: What should I do if I think I got COVID-19 from my work?
In the last three weeks, our law firm has seen an increase in phone calls regarding COVID-19 from workers who believe they may have contracted COVID-19 at work.
No one knows what the long-term effects of COVID-19 will be and medical knowledge on the long-term effects are literally being updated daily. At this time, the Mayo Clinic has noted the most common long-term symptoms from those who are exposed, or contracted COVID-19 are fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, headache, joint pain, and organ damage to the heart, lungs, and brain.
Because of the unknown long-term effects, a worker who believes that he or she has contracted COVID-19 while at work should file a workers' compensation claim.
If the worker was diagnosed with COVID-19 between March 19, 2020 and July 5, 2020, and the worker meet certain additional criteria, it may be presumed the worker contracted COVID-19 while at work.
Q: Do I need a lawyer?
If your workers' compensation claim for COVID-19 was denied by the insurance company, you should strongly consider obtaining an attorney.
If your claim was accepted and you are still experiencing long-term effects from your COVID-19 diagnosis, such as those indicated above noted by the Mayo Clinic, you should consider obtaining an attorney. If you are currently not experiencing any long-term symptoms or are unsure if you are, you may still want to contact an attorney to discuss your options.
About our firm
McLaughlin & Sanchez has more than 30 years of combined legal experience handling a wide range of workers’ compensation cases. Attorney Robert A. McLaughlin has helped clients in the greater San Diego area through some of the most complex cases for more than 20 years. He is also a recipient of the 2017 California Applicant’s Attorney of the Year.
Attorney Denise Sanchez is a California State Bar Certified Legal Specialist who handles workers’ compensation cases and has more than 12 years of experience in insurance defense.
To find out how our law firm can help you, contact us online and schedule your free case review.