Has your employer failed to provide modified work for you in connection with a work injury, only to have the insurance company refuse to pay temporary total disability benefits, claiming that a COVID-19 shutdown means they don’t have to pay? If so, you should call a Santa Rosa workers comp attorney to have your case reviewed so that you can get the help you need!
We have received an increase of calls from injured workers who are off work because of a job-related injury and had the workers compensation insurance carrier refuse to pay temporary total disability benefits on grounds that the employer has closed its doors or reduced its business due to COVID-19 and is therefore unable to provide modified work.
In a recent case considering these issues, the Workers Compensation Appeals Board ruled that the fact that it is impossible for an employer to offer modified work to an injured employee because their business has been reduced on account of COVID-19 is not a valid reason for the insurance carrier to refuse to pay temporary total disability benefits.
In that case, interestingly named Corona v. California Walls, the employer had provided modified work for a short period of time, but the insurance carrier refused to pay temporary total disability benefits when the shelter-in-place orders were made, citing COVID-19 as the reason. The employer maintained the employee was off work not because of his injury but because of the shelter-in-place orders.
The workers’ compensation judge and the court found that the injured worker was entitled to receive temporary total disability because his wage loss was caused in part by the work injury. The court cited cases where the insurance carrier was required to pay benefits even when the injured worker had been terminated, noting that the legal burden is on the employer and insurance carrier to prove that some ‘misconduct’ on the part of the worker was the reason for the termination. Thus, disqualifying the injured worker from receiving temporary total disability benefits.
The court ruled that the employer’s inability to provide modified work because of COVID-19 did not justify the insurance carrier’s refusal to provide benefits to Mr. Corona.
Have you experienced a similar problem in your work injury case? The Law Offices of Marc Francis can help you stand up to insurance and get the help and proper treatment that you deserve. For a free consultation call us at (707) 664-9675.