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California Senate Expands COVID-19 & PTSD Workers’ Comp Presumptions

The California Senate recently passed two bills that should help countless workers’ compensation claimants throughout the state. Assembly Bill 1751 and Senate Bill 284 expand presumption measures for workers’ comp claims related to COVID-19 and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among first responders, respectively.

What is SB 284?

SB 284 passed with a unanimous 39-0 vote and will be sent to Governor Gavin Newsom. It is designed to extend the PTSD presumption for active firefighters who belong to several departments.

Firefighters who are members of these departments are named in SB 284:

  • Department of State Hospitals
  • Department of Developmental Services
  • Military Department
  • Department of Veterans Affairs

The bill also includes Justice Department security officers and certain state hospital security officers. The extension will allow more time for PTSD-related workers’ compensation claims to be filed by covered first responders under the presumption that the PTSD was caused by their work. A presumption such as this essentially assumes that the claimant’s statements about the origin of the PTSD are true unless it can be proven otherwise by the responding insurance agency.

What is AB 1751?

AB 1751 recently passed an amendment vote in the Senate by 30-9, which requires it to go back to the State Assembly for approval. The bill will expand the COVID-19 workers’ compensation presumption measures for essential workers, which were first created toward the start of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The amendment changes the newly proposed end date of the presumptions to January 1st, 2024, sooner than the previous date of January 1st, 2025.

Like SB 284 does for certain first responders, the presumption measures in AB 1751 make it easier for essential workers to file for workers’ compensation after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Under the presumption, it is assumed that the worker contracted the virus while completing work-related tasks, such as helping or serving customers. The insurance company would have to present evidence to prove that the virus was likely contracted while the worker was off the clock, such as while attending a party or visiting family members.

Although the bill is returning to the Assembly for approval, it is expected to pass there, return to the Senate, and then be transmitted to Governor Newsom’s desk. Both AB 1751 and SB 284 are expected to be signed by Newsom or become law without his signature, rather than vetoing them.

If you need help filing a California workers’ compensation claim either as an essential worker who has contracted COVID-19 or a first responder who was diagnosed with PTSD, you can contact Alvandi Law Group. We are based in Los Angeles and Orange County but can assist workers throughout California. Call (800) 980-6905 for more information.

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