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Illinois’ essential workers get presumption of COVID-19 infection from job

| Jul 28, 2020 | Workers' Compensation

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected all of our lives, including how we work. While many people in Tinley Park have shifted to working from home full-time, some jobs cannot be done from a home office.

Doctors, nurses, firefighters, EMTs, grocery store workers and more are helping us stay safe while we wait for the coronavirus to get under control. But these essential workers are also regularly exposed to the virus themselves.

Help for Illinois’ front-line workers during the pandemic

Normally, when someone gets sick on the job and files a workers’ compensation claim, they must prove that their illness is work-related. But with a disease as new, widespread and mysterious as COVID-19, doing so could be difficult. In recognition of the potential health sacrifice essential workers are making, Illinois is one of a handful of states to create an exception to the usual workers’ comp rules. Now, front-line workers who come down with COVID-19 enjoy a rebuttable presumption that they contracted the illness at work. If the employer (or their workers’ compensation insurer) wants to contest the claim, they must prove that the worker was infected elsewhere.

Few states have taken action so far

Essential workers in Illinois are relatively lucky. Most states have yet to create a rebuttable presumption for workers with COVID-19 who wish to claim workers’ compensation. As NBC Chicago reports, California’s rule change is particularly pro-worker. In that state, any worker who contracts the coronavirus is entitled to the rebuttable presumption that they are entitled to workers’ compensation — not just essential workers.

Still, Illinois’ new rule should make a big difference in protecting thousands of workers if they get sick. Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to life-threatening, but a positive diagnosis requires the patient to self-isolate for at least two weeks. The resulting loss on income could be put the worker’s household in serious trouble if workers’ comp was not available.

Making your best case for workers’ compensation

If you are pursuing a workers’ comp claim or appeal due to COVID-19 or another illness, consider meeting with a workers’ compensation attorney. An experienced lawyer can help you organize your case and represent you during the appeal.