We have researched extensively the question of how COVID-19 exposure should be handled in the California workers’ compensation system. While there may not be strong consensus among workers’ compensation experts on all aspects of this question, such exposures can be managed within current labor code guidelines.
At this time, we would expect each entity to report these as they would any other exposure type claim (i.e. through our partner nurse triage service.) Once notified, we will handle these like any other notifications of exposure that we receive. We will open a file and collect some basic information that would help us expedite the process should the incident turn into an actual claim of injury as defined by law.
The Workers’ Compensation Act invokes benefits when an injury occurs. If there is no diagnosis, there is no injury, no disability and no TD benefits are due – especially if a doctor has not declared the worker unable to work. Once again, by law, until a medical professional determines that there is a positive finding for the virus, there would be no workers’ compensation coverage. Therefore, until a positive finding is made, these cases would be handled under each entity’s policies for non-work-related illnesses.
We do recognize that this is a unique situation that may change due to case law, legislation or government decree. Going forward, we will continue to seek guidance from appropriate governmental agencies and our legal community.