If so, here at Saks, Robinson & Rittenberg, we are ready to fight for your rights to recover compensation for your work-related coronavirus illness under Illinois’ Workers Compensation Act or Occupational Disease Act. On April 13, 2010, the Illinois Rules of Evidence were amended so as to presume that coronavirus contracted by “first responders” and “front-line workers” is work related. This means if you were working during the “State of Emergency” in an essential occupation, the burden is on your employer to prove that you contracted COVID-19 somewhere else.
When seeking to recover for injuries arising from the coronavirus, an employee diagnosed with the coronavirus must first obtain medical documentation confirming this diagnosis. To recover for a claim filed under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, normally (in absence of this emergency amendment), an employee bears the burden of showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he or she has sustained accidental injuries arising out of and in the course of the employment. 820 ILCS 305/1(b)3(d).
However, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation has shifted the burden away from “first responders” and “front-line workers” whose work duties caused them to sustain the coronavirus. The Commission’s emergency rules now read:
1) In any proceeding before the Commission where the petitioner is a COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker as defined in Section (a)(2), if the petitioner’s injury or period of incapacity resulted from exposure to the COVID-19 virus during a COVID-19-related state of emergency, the exposure will be rebuttably presumed to have arisen out of and in the course of the petitioner’s COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker employment and, further, will be rebuttably presumed to be causally connected to the hazards or exposures of the petitioner’s COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker employment.
2) The term “COVID-19 First Responder or Front-Line Worker” means any individuals employed as police, fire personnel, emergency medical technicians, or paramedics and all individuals employed and considered as first responders, health care providers engaged in patient care, correction officers, and the crucial personnel identified under the following headings in Section 1 Part 12 of Executive Order 2020-10 dated March 20, 2020: “Stores that sell groceries and medicine”; “Food, beverage, and cannabis production and agriculture”; “Organizations that provide charitable and social services”; “Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation”; “Financial institutions”; “Hardware and supplies stores”; “Critical trades”; “Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services”; “Educational institutions”; “Laundry services”; “Restaurants for consumption off-premises”; “Supplies to work from home”; “Supplies for Essential Businesses and Operations”; “Transportation”; “Home-based care and services”; “Residential facilities and shelters”; “Professional services”; “Day care centers for employees exempted by [Executive Order 2020-10]”; “Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries”; “Critical labor union functions”; “Hotels and motels”; and “Funeral services”.
As you can see, anyone who is working during this state of emergency and who contracted the coronavirus has a good chance at proving that their illness is job related. It will become the burden of the employer to prove that an employee’s case of coronavirus is not work-related.
To date, over 20,850 people have contracted the coronavirus in Illinois. If you have been hospitalized, and suffer from any lingering disability as a result of your illness, you can recover for permanent partial disability.
If a family member died as a result of acquiring the coronavirus at work, his or her immediate family may be entitled to benefits, including all funeral and burial costs, as well as compensation for up to 25 years of wages.
Contact the knowledgable attorneys at Saks, Robinson & Rittenberg today to learn more!