Last summer, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois lawmakers made significant changes to the laws regarding the availability of workers’ compensation benefits to essential workers. The law created a rebuttable presumption that first responders and front-line workers are presumed to qualify for workers’ compensation coverage if they contract COVID-19.
Determining whether an employee qualifies for coverage can, however, be complicated, so if you contracted COVID-19 while on the job and believe that you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, please call our office today to speak with one of our experienced Rockford workers’ compensation lawyers about your filing options.
Who Qualifies for COVID-19 Coverage?
Unlike many states, which limits the presumption of COVID-19 workers’ compensation coverage to healthcare workers and law enforcement, Illinois extended coverage to not only COVID-19 first responders, but also to frontline workers, which includes those who are employed by essential businesses and operations, such as:
- Grocery stores
- Convenience stores
- Food banks
- Gas stations
- Media outlets
- Hardware stores
- Educational institutions
- Transportation providers
- Manufacturing facilities
Any individuals who are employed by one of these essential businesses and whose operations require contact with members of the public, or working in places with more than 15 employees, can receive workers’ compensation benefits if they contract COVID-19. However, the rebuttable presumption that a claimant contracted the illness while at work only applies to employees who received diagnoses between March 9th and December 31st of last year.
Rebutting the Presumption
Even when a frontline worker in Illinois can prove that he or she was diagnosed with COVID-19 and so is presumed to qualify for coverage, that claimant’s employer can rebut that presumption, thereby denying benefits, if it can prove that:
- The employee was working from home prior to the incapacity resulting from COVID-19
- The employee was on leave for a period of 14 or more consecutive days immediately prior to incapacitation
- It was following public health guidelines, including health and safety measures around sanitation and social distancing, for 14 days before the employee contracted COVID-19
- The employee was exposed to COVID-19 by an alternate source
If, however, an employer cannot provide this evidence and rebut the claimant’s presumption, it will be required to compensate the employee for medical bills and lost wages.
Do You Qualify for Benefits?
Fortunately, just because a person isn’t considered a frontline worker, does not mean that he or she is barred from receiving workers’ compensation for COVID-19. Rather, they will not benefit from the presumption that applies to these groups but will be required to follow the standard protocol when filing a workers’ compensation claim in Illinois.
This means that a claimant will need to prove that the infection arose out of and in the course of employment. Proof that an employer didn’t follow the proper health and safety guidelines, or that there was an outbreak among the employees, will typically be enough to satisfy this standard.
Call Today for Help with Your Case
If you contracted COVID-19 in the workplace, you could qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Please call 815-315-0576 to speak with the dedicated Rockford workers’ compensation lawyers at Fisk & Monteleone Ltd. about your filing options.