From frontline workers to teachers, bus drivers, and everyone in between, American workers have continued to show up to work every day during the pandemic. Some of those people have contracted COVID-19 while on the job.
If you get COVID-19 at work, you are probably wondering what your legal options are. Here, we discuss two potential remedies available to you.
If you contract COVID-19 on the job, your first option is to file a claim against your workers’ compensation policy. Workers’ compensation benefits are similar to health insurance benefits in that it does not matter who was at fault for the injury or illness; you simply must prove that it occurred at work.
That is the key here - and the key roadblock, as well. To receive workers’ compensation benefits, you must prove that you contracted COVID-19 at work. With a highly communicable illness like COVID-19, it can be extremely difficult to prove where you contracted it. If multiple co-workers contracted the disease, this could help your case, but it will likely still be difficult to prove that you caught the disease at work.
A second potential remedy is a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. Compensation in personal injury lawsuits is often larger and more extensive than in a workers’ compensation claim (for example, you can be awarded damages for your pain and suffering). If you can prove that your employer was negligent, and their negligence caused you to catch COVID-19, you may be able to succeed with a personal injury claim.
First, you must show that your employer breached its duty of care. All employers have a duty to provide a safe environment for their employees. If your employer failed to follow CDC or OSHA guidelines by not providing its employees with adequate personal protective equipment, for example, they might have breached their duty of care.
Second, for a negligence lawsuit to succeed, you must prove that the employer’s negligence caused your illness. Like the roadblock many face in a workers’ compensation claim, it might be difficult to prove that you were exposed to and contracted COVID-19 at work.
If you contracted COVID-19 at work, it is extremely important to reach out to a San Diego attorney to discuss your case before filing any claims or a lawsuit, as the laws governing these claims are nuanced. For example, an employee who has filed for workers’ compensation benefits in California generally is precluded from filing a personal injury lawsuit. That is just one reason why it is so important to discuss your case with a San Diego attorney before taking any action. With the assistance of an experienced San Diego attorney, you can decide whether to file a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit or pursue other potential legal options.
If you have questions, need the advice of a trusted counselor, or simply do not know where to turn, our team is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
If you are unable to visit us in our office downtown during the week, we are more than happy to meet you at your home or in our office over the weekend. Hablamos espanol.