COVID-19, Workers Compensation and Rebuttable Presumption

Lee Alhambra

Illinois Expands Workers’ Compensation Protection for Front Line Workers Exposed to COVID-19

On June 5, 2020, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed HB 2455. This law provides protection for “essential workers” who are exposed to and are diagnosed with COVID-19. Typically, workers hold the burden of proving that they are entitled to Illinois Workers’ Compensation benefits. This new law creates a rebuttable presumption that essential workers diagnosed with COVID-19 are entitled to Illinois Workers’ Compensation benefits. The rebuttable presumption applies when there is a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 made by a licensed medical doctor on or after March 9, 2020. In cases diagnosed on or after June 16, 2020, the worker must provide a positive lab test. 

Who Qualifies for the “Rebuttable Presumption”?

The presumption of workers’ compensation coverage applies to all COVID-19 first responders or front-line workers. This includes:  

  • healthcare workers,
  • firefighters,
  • paramedics and
  • law enforcement.  

Additionally, it also applies to employees of essential businesses who encounter members of the public or work in locations with 15 or more people. This includes employees of the following businesses:

  • grocery stores and convenience stores 
  • pharmacies,
  • food production/manufacturing/processing,
  • distribution and supply chain companies of essential products/supplies,
  • gas stations,
  • food banks,
  • hardware stores,
  • media outlets,
  • transportation providers,
  • banks

A full list of “essential businesses”  can be found within Executive Order 2020-10, March 20, 2020.

The Employer’s Defenses

Employers can rebut the presumption by providing evidence that:

  1. the employer practiced, to the fullest extent possible, updated industry specific CDC or Illinois Dept. of Public Health guidelines to prevent COVID-19 exposure.
  2. The employee was working from home for a period of 14 consecutive days or more prior to the injury or occupational disease.
  3. The employee’s exposure to COVID-19 came from an alternate source

If you or a loved one has been exposed to and contracted COVID-19 through the workplace you need to contact a workers’ compensation attorney immediately. There are many potential pitfalls that may damage your case that only a workers’ compensation attorney can appreciate.

Consult an attorney to make sure your rights are adequately being protected. Call us at (630) 585-2320 or contact us online to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation today.

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