By Rachel Puryear, Attorney at Law
You may know that in general, if a worker gets sick or injured on their job, they are entitled to certain benefits – including partial wage replacement while off work, medical treatment, and payments based upon their level of permanent disability.
Also, normally, to get such benefits; the injured worker must prove that they got injured or sick on the job, rather than the employer having to prove the negative – in legalese, this is known as the injured worker having the “burden of proof”.
But what if a worker is still on the job, then gets sick with Covid-19, and is not sure whether they got their illness at work? Now, such employees in California who are also essential workers will have an easier time getting benefits, per the LA Times.
According to an executive order signed by Governor Newsom today, essential workers who contract Covid-19 will be entitled to workers compensation benefits for such, unless their employer can prove that the employee did not contract Covid-19 on the job. So the burden of proof shifts from the employee to the employer, and an essential worker who catches Covid-19 will be presumed to have been infected on the job unless the employer can rebut that presumption.
If you are an essential worker and you contracted Covid-19, or if you know or suspect that you sustained an injury or illness on your job; report it to your supervisor as soon as possible. Your supervisor should give you a form to submit a claim for benefits. Get medical treatment if you think you need it, and rest – often, injuries which might have otherwise healed quickly become much worse because the injured person keeps right on working. Some injuries occur from a single event – such as a fall, or a back injury while picking up a heavy object. Other injuries occur cumulatively over time – like foot problems from standing all day every day, or an illness due to long-term exposure to toxic chemicals. If you submit a claim for benefits and it is denied, and you disagree with the denial, speak to a workers’ compensation attorney.
As always, dear readers, be safe and healthy out there. Please help keep everyone safe by observing official recommendations for social distancing, sheltering in place, covering your face in public, and practicing proper hygiene. Please also help others where you can in ways big and small, and ask for help if you need it. We will all get through this together. Thank you for reading, and for following me. I hope you enjoyed this, and learned something valuable.
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Please note that the above is offered for educational purposes only. The information presented may not take into account every exception, variation, or complication which could apply to someone’s legal matters. Accordingly, nothing in this post or blog is ever intended as, nor should be construed by or relied upon by anyone, as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney who can give you assistance specific to your needs.