Employees who had an accident or injury while in their workplace—including exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19)—may file a claim for work compensation under California’s Workers Compensation Act.
All employers are obligated by federal laws to exercise safety precautions in the workplace and ensure a healthy working environment for their employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Act provides workers with the right to be protected from physical, chemical, and biological hazards, which include infectious diseases like the COVID-19 pandemic.
An employee filing a claim for work compensation must submit certain forms within the legally allotted time limit in California to enjoy the benefits associated with being injured on the job, including contracting COVID-19. Under the compensation law, employers are required to cover the medical expenses of eligible employees, and workers who are unable to return to work due to a long recovery have the right to receive partial wage replacement. Once employees accept the workers’ comp benefits, they are waiving the right to sue their employer.
Work-related Injury Claim Process in California
In California, if an employee seeks to file a compensation claim for occupational injury, he must follow a three-step process:
- The employee notifies the employer about the injury.
Before filling out injury claims, injured workers must first seek immediate medical attention and inform their treating physician that the injury is due to a workplace accident, or the illness was contracted on the job. As soon as medical care is received, the worker must report the injury or illness to his employer by writing a notice within 30 days.
The period for filing a claim and the deadlines set would depend on the date of injury. Setting the date is easier for one-time events leading to the job injury, and more complicated for occupational diseases or cumulative trauma (injury occurring due to repetitive strain). If your claim falls under the latter category, the time period for filing compensation claims usually start on the first day that you were unable to work, or when you sought medical treatment.
- The injured worker will file a claim for work compensation.
Once an occupational injury is reported, the workers’ compensation claimform or DWC-1 will be provided to you by your employer within a day. Aside from the form, they must also provide relevant information on employees’ rights, eligibility to claim compensation benefits, and details about the work compensation process. Workers who are unable to get this form from their employers may download it from the website of the California Workers’ Compensation. Once your company receives the filled-out document, it shall accomplish the employer portion on the form and submit to the insurance company.
After the insurance company receives the form, they should provide authorization to cover the injured employees’ medical expenses for up to $10,000 while the claim is being validated. For those unable to report to work, the insurer must also provide temporary disability benefits within 14 days of being informed about the work injury. may consider their claim approved if it was not denied 90 days after filing.
- The employee files an “application for adjudication of claim” with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.
For most employees, the worker’s compensation process ends in Step 2, especially if they only sustained minor injuries. In some cases, the worker and insurance company do not agree on the benefits paid, or the employees’ medical condition has worsened. Addressing such disputes may be done by filing an Application for Adjudication of Claim within a year after they were injured at work, or after the last day of receiving medical and disability benefits. Their case would then be brought to court for a final judgment regarding benefits due to the injured worker.
Filing for a worker’s compensation claim or applying for adjudication of claim under California state laws may be a daunting task, especially for employees who are facing serious illnesses or are still in recovery. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can assist in the claim process, explain the law, and help protect employee’s rights.
If you are in need of an attorney, you may contact the Upland Workers compensation attorneys from The Law Offices of Marc Grossman who will help file your claim and recover lost wages. Call us now for your free initial case evaluation.