According to reporting from Fortune Magazine, long-haul COVID-19 is creating some workers’ compensation-related challenges in California and throughout the United States. Below, our California workers’ compensation defense attorneys discuss long-haul COVID-19 and workers’ compensation claims.
What is Long-Haul COVID-19?
Also referred to simply as “long COVID” and “post-COVID-19 syndrome,” long-haul COVID-19 is a complex condition characterized by adverse symptoms/effects that continue to occur after the virus itself has “cleared” the system and the person no longer tests positive. It remains a relatively under-studied condition and there are many outstanding questions about it. Some effects that have been associated with long-haul COVID include:
- Respiratory issues;
- Neurological challenges;
- Cardiovascular problems; and
- Musculoskeletal pain.
California Law: Employees Can File for Workers’ Compensation for Job-Related Exposure
In California, COVID-19—and other contagious respiratory illnesses—are covered by workers’ compensation. If a person was exposed to COVID-19 in relation to their job, they have the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits. Notably, California has put specialized regulations creating a rebuttable presumption for many workers who file for COVID-19 related benefits.
As a general rule, a worker who files a workers’ compensation claim must prove that they were injured or made ill in the course and scope of their employment. In other words, they must prove that they have a job-related impairment. However, with COVID-19, there is a rebuttable presumption of a workplace connection. An employer has the burden of proving that a claimant was not exposed to COVID-19 in the relation to their employment.
Long-Haul COVID Creates Many Workers’ Compensation Challenges
Employers, insurance companies, and claim administrators are still working out how to process long-haul COVID-19 claims. In July, federal regulators—including the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice—released joint guidance on the matter of long COVID/post-COVID-19 syndrome. Among other things, this guidance indicates that long-haul COVID should be treated as a disability related to the condition.
One of the issues for employers, insurers, and claims administrators is that long-haul COVID-19 is creating more uncertainty and, potentially, greater long-term liability. When a COVID-19 claim is accepted as a “compensable workplace condition” in California, a party may be liable for costs beyond the initial medical treatment. They could potentially be opened up to exposure for long-haul COVID-19 related disabilities or impairments. This is an important consideration in workers’ compensation.
Speak to Our Fresno, CA Workers’ Compensation Defense Lawyers Today
At Yrulegui & Roberts, our Fresno workers’ compensation defense attorneys have the professional skills and legal expertise that you can trust for help with challenging cases. If you have any questions about defending a long-haul COVID-19 workers’ compensation claim, we can help. Contact us today for a confidential consultation. From our offices in Bakersfield, Fresno, and Sacramento, we provide workers’ compensation defense representation throughout all of Central California.