The California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI) has reported that 50,592 coronavirus-related workers’ compensation claimshave already been filed in California within the last 8 months. This rate equates to more than 200 claims filed a day. 282 of those claims have been death claims filed by the families of workers who have passed away due to COVID-19 complications after presumably contracting the virus in their line of work.
July remains the month with the most filings at 14,453, taking the unfortunate lead by a longshot; the number might even go up beyond 15,000 with some adjusted data. August has the second-most filings at 6,710. Although, recent positive coronavirus case spikes across the nation have raised concerns that another massive wave of filings could follow soon in December or perhaps January 2021.
Who is Filing the Most Claims?
Healthcare workers are at the largest risk of contracting the virus at work, the workers’ comp filing data shows. More than one-third of the filings in California have been filed by nurses, doctors, surgeons, and other healthcare professionals, with this rate holding steady throughout the year. Public safety officers and government employees are at the second-largest risk, it seems, with this industry comprising about 15% of the filings. Although, the data does not reflect industries in which workers are not typically provided workers’ compensation, such as rideshare drivers and private mail couriers.
Interestingly, Los Angeles County does not have the highest density of coronavirus workers’ compensation claims filed compared to the total number of workers. According to the CWIC, there were 33.7 COVID claims per 10,000 employees in Los Angeles County, where there have long been fears that the dense population would act as a “super spreader” for the virus. Instead, Imperial County along the Mexico border has had the highest number of claims at 170.8 COVID claims per 10,000 employees.
Large Number of Filings Does Not Mean Huge Payouts
The staggering amount of workers’ comp filings related to coronavirus diagnosis does not mean that insurance companies have been emptying their coffers for claimants, though. The CWCI calculates that about 29% of all filings – or about 14,000 of them – have been met with first-round denials. It is not clear at this time how many of those claims have been successfully appealed.
Insurance companies in California have been partially protected by a state rule that established a “rebuttable presumption” of COVID risk for workers’ compensation claimants but only when an “outbreak” happens in a workplace with 100 or more employees. In other words, absent an outbreak situation, a workers’ compensation claimant will have to prove that their exposure to the coronavirus happened at work. In states with full rebuttable presumptions for workers’ comp claimants, the burden is placed on the insurer to prove that exposure did not happen due to the claimant’s employment.
California Workers’ Comp Claimants Encouraged to Hire a Lawyer
With so many workers’ comp claims being filed just for coronavirus-related reasons alone, and the high rate of denial, anyone in California who needs to file a claim is encouraged to hire a workers’ comp attorney. With an attorney’s help, a claimant can make certain their claim is filed correctly, completely, and on-time, reducing the chances of it getting lost in the shuffle of so many similar claims. A lawyer can also help a claimant appeal a wrongfully denied claim and potentially negotiate for a lump sum settlement in some cases.
Claimants in Santa Clarita and Glendale should call (818) 946-0608 to connect with the Law Offices of Wax & Wax. Our attorneys focus entirely on workers’ compensation cases, so our clients don’t have to. Schedule an initial consultation today.