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Worker's Compensation Rights During The COVID-19 Pandemic

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Sherwood Law Group and its attorneys are constantly updating its clients about their rights during these uncertain times and in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. So, what are your rights as an employee under workers compensation in regard to the wide array of changes that have taken place due to COVID-19? Below is a breakdown where we try to answer some of those questions. As always, for questions or inquiries do not hesitate to contact Sherwood Law Group at 312.627.1650 or info@sherwoodlawgroup.com.

Is COVID-19 compensable under state workers compensation acts?

The answer to that question is “It depends.” Traditionally, workers compensation laws and regulations provide compensation for “occupational diseases” that have arisen out of and in the course of employment. However, many states, including Illinois, exclude ordinary diseases of life such as the common cold or seasonal flu. The question then becomes, what does COVID-19 qualify as, a seasonal flue or an occupational disease? As of right now, many would argue that COVID-19 would be considered as an occupational disease meaning that it would be covered under the workers compensation act, and recent legislation would support that argument. Some states, including Illinois, have pending legislative initiatives to expand the coverage for certain workers. As a direct result, evolving findings would suggest that COVID 19 would be recoverable under the workers compensation act.

As a first responder or essential employee, if I contract COVID-19, am I entitled to workers compensation benefits?

More and more states are changing or reconsidering rules to ensure that first responders, essential employees, and others battling the novel coronavirus have unimpeded access to workers’ compensation benefits if they are infected. In mid-April, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission established an emergency rule amending the Illinois Administrative Code for workers’ compensation hearings that created a presumption for workers infected with COVID-19 who work in “critical” industries. However, on April 28, 2020 that presumption was repealed thus no longer making it automatically presumed that essential employees who contract COVID-19 did so on the job. While it is no longer automatically presumed that all essential employees who contract COVID-19 contract the disease while working, that does not mean that first responders and essential employee are barred from receiving benefits under Workers Comp. The evolving litigation on this matter ultimately means that COVID-19 may be recoverable under Workers Comp as opposed to automatically being recoverable.

So if you, a loved one, colleague, family member or friend have a question please use us as a resource for information. The law is evolving weekly during these unprecedented times. Stay informed!

As always, for questions or inquiries regarding all personal injury and workers compensation disputes attorneys at Sherwood Law Group are happy to help and can be reached at 312.627.1650 or info@sherwoodlawgroup.com.

 
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