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COVID-19 Compensation


Every occupation comes with inherent dangers, but frontline workers who continue to report to work during the coronavirus pandemic face unprecedented risks. If you are a grocery store clerk, restaurant worker, delivery driver, or healthcare worker, you are playing an essential role in keeping our country running. Every time you clock in for work, you are at risk for being exposed to coronavirus or contracting COVID-19. 

If you do become infected, your number one priority should be to seek medical care. Once you do, you can begin the process of seeking workers’ compensation benefits to cover the costs of your treatment and supplement your income while you’re off your feet.


Workers’ compensation exists to provide eligible employees with access to medical care and wage replacement benefits if they become injured or sick at work. These benefits are provided at no cost to the employee; employers are required by California law to pay for workers’ compensation insurance. Now more than ever, frontline workers are relying on these protections to secure their financial futures should they become infected with COVID-19. 

There has been a lot of uncertainty among essential workers as to whether or not they will qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if they contract coronavirus. Under workers’ compensation law, an employee must be able to prove that his or her illness was contracted at work and in the course of employment to be eligible to receive benefits. This can be difficult to prove under normal circumstances, let alone during a global pandemic.

Fortunately, Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order that makes it easier for essential workers who contract COVID-19 at work to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. In an unprecedented shift, the burden of proof falls on the employer, not the employee, to prove that a worker did not contract coronavirus at work. This order offers an extra layer of protection to the essential workers putting their health on the line during the coronavirus pandemic, ensuring that they can access healthcare and other benefits without delay.


We have received this question from many essential employees who are concerned about being exposed to coronavirus at work. In the workers’ compensation system, there is a distinct difference between being exposed to coronavirus and being diagnosed with coronavirus. If you begin feeling sick after coming in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, it is vital to get tested yourself. In California, free testing is available to anyone who is experiencing coronavirus symptoms.

In order to receive workers’ compensation benefits, you will need a physician’s report indicating that you have tested positive for COVID-19 and are thus unable to work.


COVID-19 has a wide range of symptoms and affects different people in different ways. If you think you’ve been exposed to someone with coronavirus and are feeling sick, call your doctor right away. He or she will provide you with instructions on how and where to get tested. Stay home and separate yourself from other family members until you receive your test results. If you test positive for COVID-19, the first step in filing for workers’ compensation is submitting a DWC-1 Claim Form to your employer. The sooner you submit this form, the sooner you can begin collecting medical and wage loss benefits.

Workers’ compensation benefits include payment of all medical expenses related to your coronavirus treatment as well as temporary disability benefits, paid at two-thirds of your regular weekly wage. It is still unclear as to whether coronavirus causes long-lasting impairments that could qualify an infected worker for permanent disability benefits.

Once your employer submits the claim to their insurance carrier, you will receive notification within 14 days as to whether your claim has been accepted, delayed, or denied. Hopefully, with the order signed by Gov. Newsom, your workers’ compensation claim will be approved. Of course, there may be unforeseen snags that can disrupt or delay your benefits. The executive order is expected to drive up costs for employers as workers’ compensation rates skyrocket, so your employer may even try to dissuade you from filing a workers’ compensation claim. 

This is illegal. California law prohibits employers from penalizing employees for filing workers’ compensation claims for coronavirus. If something doesn’t seem right, it’s time to call a San Diego workers’ compensation lawyer who can help you get the benefits you deserve.


If you have tested positive for COVID-19 and are frightened and confused about how you will pay for your medical expenses, we can help. Filing for workers’ compensation can be a confusing process under normal circumstances, even more so as we navigate a pandemic. In these uncertain times, it can be immensely helpful to have an experienced lawyer on your side. Call the lawyers at The Law Office of Matthew Russell to receive a free no-obligation consultation today at (619) 544-1506.

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