Can an employee receive workers compensation in Illinois after getting COVID-19?

The short answer is yes. Workers who contract the coronavirus, COVID-19 (formally referred to as SARS-CoV-2), as a result of their employment may be able to receive benefits under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with COVID-19, tested positive for COVID-19, or tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, then contact Horwitz Horwitz & Associates at (800)-985-1819 or through our contact us form.

In order for an injured worker to receive workers’ compensation benefits, the employer must be operating under the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act (“IWCA”) and the injury must arise out of and in the course of the employment.

Is my employer operating under the IWCA?

Broadly speaking, three types of employers are “under the Act”: (1) government employers; (2) employers who elect to bring themselves under the Act; and (3) employers who are subject to “automatic application” of the Act. In the event that an injured worker is employed by an employer who is neither insured nor certified self-insured, the Act may still provide some measure of protection for these employees in limited situations.

Does my employment lead to or contribute to getting COVID-19?

Whether an injury arises out of and in the course of employment boils down to whether there is a causal connection between the injury and the employment—i.e., whether some aspect of the employment lead to or contributed to the injury. In many instances, the question that must be answered is whether the injured worker was at an increased risk of being injured compared to the general public. Therefore, an employee who contracts COVID-19, and who is at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 compared to the general public, may have a compensable claim under the IWCA.

Employees most at risked of contracting COVID-19

Below is a list of the types of employees who may be at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19:

  • Doctors, nurses, and hospital employees;
  • Emergency medical technicians and paramedics;
  • Police, fire personnel, and corrections officers;
  • Employees of health care providers, including nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities;
  • Home-based care and service employees, including caregivers such as nannies and employees who provide in-home services like meal-delivery;
  • Grocery store employees, supermarket employees, and convenience store employees;
  • Pharmacists and pharmacy employees;
  • Manufacturing employees, distribution employees, and supply chain employees for the pharmaceutical, technology, biotechnology, healthcare, chemical and sanitation, agriculture, good and beverage, transportation, energy, steel, petroleum and fuel, mining, construction, national defense, and communications industries;
  • Food and beverage manufacturing employees, including employees involved in the production and processing of food and beverage;
  • Farming, livestock, and other production agriculture employees, including employees involved in the cultivation, marketing, production, and distribution of animals and goods for consumption;
  • Employees that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for animals, including animal shelters, rescues, shelters, kennels, and adoption facilities;
  • Employees of charitable organizations and social services that provide food, shelter, social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
  • Employees of media, such as newspaper employees, television employees, radio employees, reporters, etc.;
  • Gas station employees, and employees of auto-supply, auto-repair, and other related facilities;
  • Transportation employees, including airline employees, taxi employees, transportation network employees, vehicle rental employees, paratransit employees, and employees of other private, public, and commercial transportation and logistics providers;
  • Employees of payday lenders, pawnbrokers, consumer installment lenders and sales finance lenders, credit unions, appraisers, title companies, etc.;
  • Hardware store employees, and supply store employees;
  • Building and construction tradesmen and tradeswomen, and other trades including but not limited to plumbers, electricians, exterminators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, and other service employees who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences;
  • Mail employees, post employees, shipping employees, logistics employees, delivery employees, and pick-up employees;
  • Laundromat employees, dry cleaner employees, industrial laundry service employees, and laundry service employees;
  • Funeral employees, mortuary employees, cremation employees, burial employees, cemetery employees, etc.

Illinois HB 2455 Creates a Rebuttable Presumption That First Responders, Frontline Workers, and Essential Workers Who Contract COVID-19, Did So During Work.

The Illinois legislature recently passed HB 2455, which was signed into law by Governor Pritzker on June 5, 2020. HB 2455 includes a provision that creates a rebuttable presumption that first responders, front-line workers, and essential workers who contract COVID-19, did so during work. Under HB 2455, first responders and front-line workers include:

  • All individuals employed as police, fire personnel, emergency medical technicians, or paramedics;
  • All individuals employed and considered as first responders;
  • All workers for health care providers, including nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities and home care workers;
  • Corrections officers; and,
  • Any individuals employed by essential businesses and operations as defined in Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order 2020-10 dated March 20, 2020.

The initial list included above contains many of the types of employees deemed “essential” in the Executive Order. But there are some caveats to the rebuttable presumption. For example, individuals employed by essential businesses and operations must be required by their employment to encounter members of the general public or work in employment locations of more than 15 employees. Further, the presumption ends on December 31, 2020.

If you or a loved one has been working and has been either diagnosed with COVID-19 or tested positive for COVID-19 or COVID-19 antibodies, then we urge you to contact our Illinois workers’ compensation lawyers at Horwitz Horwitz & Associates. Likewise, if you have questions, we invite you to contact our workers’ compensation attorneys. The first consultation with our office is always free, and we are happy to discuss your potential claim. Call (800) 985-1819 for a free telephone consultation to discuss your potential claim and any questions you may have.