The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated coronavirus a global health emergency. This viral and dangerous disease is spreading across the world and is in the US as well. Considering the risk to life as well as the severe economic impact of this virus, policyholders and the US insurance industry are both watching and considering whether or not business interruptions, event cancellation, or liability and worker’s comp insurance benefits might be available while assessing their liability risks.
Are you wondering whether you are covered under California’s workers’ comp law if you contract coronavirus? The answer to this seemingly simple question can be yes, or no, depending on various factors, such as whether it is an occupational disease.
For example, you might be entitled to worker’s comp benefits in California, if coronavirus is deemed an occupational disease and you contracted it during the course of your work. You need an experienced workers’ comp attorney in California as they will help you establish that you contracted the disease during the performance of your job.
If you are a health professional, emergency, and safety worker or work in the airline industry, you might be at a heightened risk of contracting the virus.

What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a specific type of virus that may cause various illnesses, like the common cold, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). The newly identified type that has caused a recent outbreak of various respiratory illnesses is now known as COVID-19, and it started in China. As this virus is new, we do not know much about it yet. It is worth noting that public health groups, like WHO and the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are investigating the virus.
Symptoms of COVID-19

Some of the common COVID-19 symptoms include the following:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath

Note that in some rare cases, COVID-19 may lead to extreme respiratory problems, kidney failure, and even death. If you are experiencing these symptoms, call a healthcare professional and get in touch with a Bay Area workers’ comp attorney.

What are Occupational Diseases?
We can define an occupational disease as a chronic disorder that is caused by work activities and environmental conditions within your workplace. An occupational disease can affect several parts of your body, like the lungs, bones, and muscles. Some common occupational diseases include the following:

  • Bronchitis
  • Asbestosis
  • Cancer
  • Lateral epicondylitis

Can Coronavirus be Deemed an Occupational Disease?
Most countries, including the US, have laws and regulations designed to protect employees or workers from physical harm at work. So, in the US, as an employee, you are protected under OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Act). So, if you get infected with this virus at work, in some cases, your employer may face penalties, and you can receive compensation benefits under California’s Workers’ Compensation Law.
Keep in mind that concluding that a specific illness is occupational, is peculiar to your work and eventually compensable isn’t necessarily based on the disease itself, but on the facts and circumstances surrounding your illness.

Here are some factors that medical professionals and courts investigate and consider to determine if an illness, such as coronavirus is an occupational disease:

  • The timing of the various symptoms, such as coughing. in relation to your work: Do these symptoms worsen when you come to work and improve if you take prolonged absences from work (such as on weekends)
  • Whether your co-workers and colleagues show or have experienced similar symptoms
  • Your predisposition to the illness (such as an allergy or any other medical issue)
  • The commonality or prevalence of that illness to employees in a particular industry. For example, workers in the travel and safety industry may be more likely to contract coronavirus
  • Your personal habits and personal medical history. Patients, for instance, in poor medical condition (smokers, overweight, and unrelated heart disease, etc.) or/and with poor family medical histories are usually more likely to contract an illness or disease than other people in similar circumstances. Note that bad habits, such as smoking and poor medical history, can cloud the relationship between your occupation and your illness.

There also remain several questions about how coronavirus spreads as well as the applicable timeframe between infection/exposure and the manifestation of various symptoms, which can complicate matters. This is why you need a competent attorney by your side at all times.
Steps to Take if you Think you have Contracted the Coronavirus
You should call ahead to a doctor or healthcare professional in case you develop a fever and various symptoms of respiratory illness, like cough, runny nose, difficulty breathing, or headache, and have been in close contact with an individual known to have the virus.

While there are no vaccines available at the moment to protect against coronavirus, there are some steps you should take to help prevent infection:

  • Frequently wash your hands with water and soap for at least twenty seconds
  • Do not touch your eyes, mouth or nose
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough
  • Frequently disinfect and clean objects and surfaces
  • Try to avoid close contact with individuals who are sick
  • Stay home if you are sick

Get in Touch with the Farnsworth Law Group
If you or someone you know is infected with coronavirus and are not sure if you can file a claim against your employer, you should get in touch with the law office of Arjuna Farnsworth as soon as possible. Employers try their best to deny workers’ compensation claims. This is why you need an experienced and competent attorney in California who can defend your case and make sure you get the benefits you deserve under the law. We will assess your illness as well as the circumstances of your illness to better determine whether you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits in California.

You can call us at 415 -250-1044 or email us at arjuna@farnsworthattorney.com.