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What does the new Illinois Workers’ Compensation law mean for essential workers with Covid-19?

Published on April 23rd, 2020 by The Illinois Hammer Injury Law Firm

What does the new Illinois Workers’ Compensation law mean for essential workers with Covid-19?

The amended rule adopted by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, effective April 16, 2020, makes it easier for Covid-19 first responders and front-line workers, including those working in essential business operations identified in Governor Pritzker’s March 20, stay-at-home order, to obtain benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Usually, injured or incapacitated workers seeking benefits under the Act for a disease have the burden of proving that they were exposed to the disease while working and that their disability is related to that exposure. They must present evidence, most often including medical testimony, to satisfy the burden. Under the amended rule, the burden of proof is shifted to the employers to show that the employees were not exposed to the disease at work or that their incapacity was not caused by that exposure.

The amended rule provides that if a first responder or front-line worker’s injury, disease, or period of incapacity, resulted from exposure to the Covid-19 virus during a Covid-19 state of emergency proclaimed by the governor, it will be rebuttably presumed that the injury, disease or period of incapacity arose out of and in the course of employment and is causally related to the hazards of the first responder or front line worker’s employment.

In other words, workers need only demonstrate that they suffered injuries, diseases or periods of incapacity from exposure to Covid-19 during a Covid-19 State of emergency declared by the governor in Illinois, and that they were working as Covid-10 first responders or front-line workers/workers in essential operations in order to establish their entitlement to benefits under the Act. Such benefits may include related emergency treatment and medical care, hospital and surgical care, and rehabilitation services, at the expense of their employers. Other benefits include temporary total and/or partial disability benefits, and compensation for permanent disability. It is then up to the employers to present any evidence to show that their jobs did not expose them to the Covid-19 virus and/or that they did not become ill or disabled due to any such on-the-job exposure.

Under the amended rule our first responders, such as health care providers, law enforcement officials and firefighters, and our front line workers, such as corrections officers, grocery and pharmacy workers and delivery agents, will have an easier time accessing the protection of the Workers’ Compensation Act.

For more information on Covid-19 Workers’ Compensation Rights please visit https://www.illinoishammer.com/covid-19-workers-compensation

If you or a loved one are an essential worker that has contracted Covid-19 and has been on a ventilator or your loved one has died, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

We are also regularly updating information on this on our Twitter and Facebook accounts.

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