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Home  »  California LawWorker's Compensation   »   Californians Provided Additional COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Protections

Californians Provided Additional COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Protections

Californians Provided Additional COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Protections

Sep 20, 2020

A new bill signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom relaxes the burden of proof required to receive workers’ compensation benefits for select essential employees who contract COVID-19 on the job. Senate Bill 1159 (SB 1159) allows for police, firefighters, and other essential employees who contract COVID-19 while working to be covered under the state’s workers’ compensation program.

SB 1159 codifies the governor’s May executive order which expanded COVID-19 protections for any employees required to work outside the home by providing the presumption that they contracted the virus at work. That executive order expired on July 5, but SB 1159 is retroactive and extends until January 1, 2023. As a result, essential workers infected by COVID-19 are now covered under the state’s workers’ compensation program through the end of 2022.

SB 1159 was passed as an urgency bill, making it effective immediately (most laws are not made official until the following year).

DLG’s Founder and President, Samuel Dordulian, applauded the governor’s action to help California workers. “It’s a critical step that will provide necessary protections to our essential workers while also helping the state’s economy recover,” he said.

DLG’s state-certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist, Charles Rondeau, called SB 1159 a “definite win” for California workers. “It may seem like common sense, but these protections aren’t being extended in a number of states,” he said. “This was the right thing to do, and I hope it persuades other states to follow California’s lead.

What Does SB 1159 Mean for COVID-19 Infected Workers?

SB 1159 ensures workers who contract the coronavirus are eligible to receive five basic financial benefits including (when applicable):

  • Medical benefits: Payments for medical bills and any necessary care to help you recover from COVID-19
  • Temporary disability benefits: Payments for lost wages resulting from a COVID-19 injury that prevents you from working
  • Permanent disability benefits: Payments if you don’t recover completely from COVID-19 and are unable to work in the future
  • Supplemental job displacement benefits: Vouchers to help pay for retraining or skill enhancement that may be required if you don’t recover completely from COVID-19 and are therefore unable to continue working for your current employer
  • Death benefits: Payments to your spouse, children, or other dependents following death related to a COVID-19 infection

The Los Angeles Times reported that Governor Newsom believes the new law emphasizes the need to “prioritize our workforce, our workers, our frontline essential workforce that we pay a lot of lip service to but, often, we don’t back up.”

If you’ve been injured at work, contact our certified workers’ compensation specialists online or by phone for a free consultation today.

The report from the Times also included the following facts regarding the state’s workers’ compensation system:

  • California’s workers’ compensation system pays employees who have suffered an injury or illness on the job, regardless of who is at fault.
  • The state’s 100-year-old workers’ compensation insurance system relies on nearly 700,000 businesses covered by 200 insurance companies to pay for medical care and wage replacement when employees are injured while working.
  • Some 800,000 workers receive benefits from the program each year, according to a 2020 report from the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California.
  • There have been more than 40,436 claims filed so far this year by workers who said they contracted COVID-19 on the job. Of those, 11,186 have been rejected, with most denials attributed to a negative COVID-19 test.
  • The number of workers’ compensation claims for the coronavirus jumped from 4,790 in May to 11,271 in June, and to 12,889 in July, according to the Department of Industrial Relations.
  • The workers’ comp rating bureau estimated that COVID-19 claims will cost employers and insurers around $2 billion. The bureau estimated in May that the average claim paid would be $29,000.

Under SB 1159, employees will be presumed to have contracted COVID-19 on the job if there was an outbreak at their workplace. The new law defines an outbreak as either:

  1. An incident where five or more employees contract the virus within a 14-day period at a workplace with between five and 100 employees
  2. An incident where 5% of employees contract the virus in that period at a workplace with more than 100 employees

California Assembly Bill 685 Under COVID-19

Governor Newsom also signed Assembly Bill 685. AB 685 will require employers to provide written notice to workers who may have been exposed to COVID-19 while also informing local public health officials. AB 685 extends authority to state regulators over the next two years, allowing them to penalize business owners for any workplace violations.

What Should I Do If I am a Worker Impacted by COVID-19?

Contacting a DLG lawyer is the first step to protecting your rights and securing the workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled. At DLG, we are fierce advocates who fight for workers every step of the way. Whether you’re filing a new COVID-19 workers’ compensation claim or wish to appeal a previous claim denial, we are here to help.

California workers consistently choose Dordulian Law Group over any other Los Angeles workers’ compensation firm because of our decades of experience and record of success. Regardless of what your claim entails, we have the knowledge, experience, and dedication necessary to help you achieve the best possible outcome and secure the largest workers’ compensation benefits package available.

Our expert team of attorneys can help workers’ compensation victims secure financial damages. Contact our top-rated lawyers online or by phone for a free consultation today.

Dordulian Law Group’s COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Division

Dordulian Law Group’s Workers’ Compensation Division is headed by Charles Rondeau. Mr. Rondeau is a seasoned attorney who holds the prestigious and extremely rare (less than 2% of California attorneys) qualification of Workers’ Compensation Law Specialist.

Mr. Rondeau has been fighting on behalf of workers for over 20 years, helping them secure the financial benefits they deserve. He leads an experienced team of DLG workers’ compensation professionals who together deliver outstanding representation to injured workers throughout California. Dordulian Law Group’s Workers’ Compensation Division provides every client, spanning all industries and job types, with unparalleled service and support.

Contact us today to arrange a free consultation. We are here to answer all your questions and help you win your California COVID-19 workers’ compensation claim.

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