MRSA, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, is a medical condition caused by staph bacterium. MRSA can be transmitted through contact with skin or the personal items of anyone carrying MRSA on their skin, even if they do not have an infection. In workers’ compensation claims, ordinarily an injured worker has the burden of establishing that an injury arose out of employment. California Labor Code Section 3212.8 provides a presumption that MRSA arose out of employment or the course of employment (AOE/COE) for several classes of workers, whether they are volunteers, partly paid, or fully paid:
- Sheriff’s officers
- Police, firefighters and related personnel
- Forestry (primary duty of firefighting)
- Fish and game workers
Defending Against MRSA Related Claims
The presumption covers MRSA skin conditions and internal infections for workers during their period of service. Schools, prisons and jails, long term care facilities, gyms, contact sports, and day care centers are all frequent points of origination for such MRSA infections. Given this information, employers must first decide whether to accept or deny a worker’s compensation claim. In industries that do not have a presumption, the employee must prove the MRSA infection is AOE/COE. Employers should take action to:
- Prove exposure outside of work, such as at a doctor’s visit or contact with an infected person.
- Establish a full medical history, including all hospital and doctor visits and prescriptions.
- Run criminal and civil background checks for other potential sources of infection, such as prior convictions for drug use.
- Obtain a general medical history of persons in close contact who may have transmitted MRSA to the employee.
For presumption cases, it is difficult to rebut a claim, but MRSA related conditions other than skin infections and blood borne diseases are not covered by the presumption. Given the necessity of early treatment in MRSA cases, it may be more cost effective to pay for early medical treatment and fight the claim afterwards. Remember, providing a benefit does not automatically advance approval of a claim.
Learn more about defending against worker’s compensation claims involving MRSA infections from David Tew, Managing Partner of the Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez Fresno office in our educational seminar series by clicking on the YouTube video below or contact the law offices of Adelson, Testan, et al. for more information.