Workers’ Compensation during COVID-19
In June 2020, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker eased the burden for employees in our state to obtain workers’ compensation benefits after contracting COVID-19 as a result of their employment from March 9, 2020 through the end of the year.
On June 5, 2020, Gov. Pritzker signed into law HB 2455, which creates a rebuttable presumption that first responders and front-line workers contracted COVID-19 as a result of their work. Ordinarily, an employee would have the burden of proof to show that their illness arose from their employment. The exception was created for first responders and front-line workers during the pandemic.
The law states specifically that “the exposure and contraction shall be rebuttably presumed to have arisen out of and in the course of the employee's first responder or front-line worker employment and the injury or occupational disease shall be rebuttably presumed to be causally connected to the hazards or exposures of employee's first responder or front-line worker employment.”
Who qualifies as a Front-line or First Responder under the law?
The law defines first responders and front-line workers as healthcare workers and/or law enforcement, as well as individuals employed by essential businesses and operations as defined in Executive Order 2020-10, which includes individuals employed by grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, food banks, media outlets, gas stations, banks, hardware stores, educational institutions, transportation providers, manufacturing facilities and restaurants, as long as individuals employed by essential businesses and operations are required by their employment to encounter members of the general public or to work in employment locations of more than 15 employees.
Illinois joins at least a dozen other states with similar laws easing the burden for some categories of essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new law also states that the presumption may be rebutted by evidence, including, but not limited to the following:
(A) the employee was working from his or her home, on leave from his or her employment, or some combination thereof, for a period of 14 or more consecutive days immediately prior to the employee's injury, occupational disease, or period of incapacity resulted from exposure to COVID-19; or
(B) the employer was engaging in and applying to the fullest extent possible or enforcing to the best of its ability industry-specific workplace sanitation, social distancing, and health and safety practices based on updated guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Illinois Department of Public Health or was using a combination of administrative controls, engineering controls, or personal protective equipment to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 to all employees for at least 14 consecutive days prior to the employee's injury, occupational disease, or period of incapacity resulting from exposure to COVID-19.
The enactment of the Illinois law follows an emergency order, which had been passed by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission on April 13, 2020. It had also created the rebuttal presumption but was challenged in court and was later withdrawn.
Corboy & Demetrio offers free consultations for employees who believe they contracted COVID-19 as a result of their employment.
To contact Partner Michelle M. Kohut or another Chicago personal injury lawyer at the firm, call 312-346-3191 or toll free at 800-356-3191. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Workers’ Compensation in General
Workers' Compensation is a system of benefits paid by employers to workers who experience work-related injuries or diseases, regardless of fault.
We represent employees who are injured while performing work, including employees who believe they contracted COVID-19 as a result of their employment.
Disputes between an employee and employer regarding work-related injuries and illness are heard by the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. A case is first tried by an arbitrator, whose decision may be reviewed by a panel of three commissioners.
Cases may then be appealed to the circuit court, Appellate Court and Illinois Supreme Court. The vast majority of disputes are resolved by settlement.
Corboy & Demetrio is one of the nation's premier law firms. The personal injury law firm represents individuals and their families in workers' compensation, serious personal injury and wrongful death cases and is renowned for its achievements in the courtroom and for its contributions to the community. The rights and concerns of its clients are at the core of Corboy & Demetrio's practice. That commitment, dedication, compassion and relentless drive have resulted in exceptional service and exceptional results for its clients.
The Chicago law firm has acquired more than $4 billion in settlements and verdicts and has attained more than 600 settlements and verdicts in excess of $1 million. To contact Partner Michelle M. Kohut or another Chicago personal injury lawyer at the firm, call 312-346-3191 or toll free at 800-356-3191. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Chicago Tribune, 05.08.2008