Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, Illinois has relied on many workers to continue operating essential businesses and services while potentially exposing themselves to the virus. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission enacted an emergency rule in April that created a rebuttable presumption that healthcare workers, emergency responders, and front-line workers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 contracted the virus as a result of their job and would be eligible for benefits. As of June 5, Illinois replaced that emergency rule with a new law that provides the same protections for these workers. The following guidelines will help you understand whether you could receive workers’ compensation if you contract the coronavirus.
Several states have enacted laws providing workers’ compensation for employees at hospitals and emergency responders, such as EMT workers, police officers, and firefighters. Illinois is one of the few states that has extended the coverage to front-line workers. The law defines front-line workers as those who work for businesses and organizations that Illinois deemed to be essential in the executive order that declared Illinois a disaster area due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The businesses and organizations include:
- Grocery stores and pharmacies
- Food production and distribution companies
- Restaurants that can serve food for off-premises consumption
- Social service organizations
- Transportation and fuel services
- Financial institutions
- Construction workers
- Hardware and office supply businesses
- Delivery services
- Utility and maintenance workers
In order to qualify for coverage, the workers also must have been required to interact with the public or work at a location with at least 15 employees. The law applies to workers who contract the virus from March 9 to the end of the year.
What Can Be Evidence Against a COVID-19 Claim?
Employers and insurers can attempt to rebut the presumption that qualified employees contracted coronavirus from work. The law works on the belief that a person diagnosed with COVID-19 likely contracted the virus in the previous 14 days. An employer may present evidence that:
- The employee had been working from home or was on leave from work for the previous 14 days
- The workplace had been following the latest public health guidelines for the 14 days prior to the diagnosis
- There was another source of the coronavirus that the employee was exposed to
Contact a Crystal Lake, Illinois, Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Workers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will be forced into isolation for weeks and may become dangerously ill. If you are an essential worker who has contracted the coronavirus, a McHenry County workers’ compensation lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you apply for benefits. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.