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How COVID-19 has impacted Workers’ Compensation Cases

Posted on: February 12th, 2021 by Romanucci & Blandin

By Frank A. Sommario, Partner, Romanucci & Blandin

On June 5, 2020, Governor Pritzker signed into law the Covid-19 Presumption Bill which stated that for purposes of the Illinois Workers Compensation Act or Occupational Disease Act, for front-line Workers and first responders who were exposed to and contracted Covid-19, there will be a rebuttable presumption that the exposure and contraction of the virus arose out of and was in the course of their employment, and that the disease was causally related to their employment – meaning it will be presumed that it was contracted at work, and no further proof will be necessary. This presumption can be rebutted by the employer only in certain limited situations.  This presumption would apply to all cases tried after June 5, 2020 where the diagnosis of Covid-19 was made on or after March 9, 2020, and on or before December 31, 2020.

By announcing this emergency measure, the Governor and the legislature ensured that those front-line and first responder workers were given the highest level of recourse allowed under the Act.

COVID-19 front-line workers and first responders include:

-Healthcare workers engaged in patient care

-Emergency medical technicians or paramedics

-Correction officers

-People who sell groceries, medicine or cannabis products

-Police or Fire personnel 

-Any individuals employed by essential businesses and operations

On February 4, 2021, HB 4276, which would extend the Covid-19 Presumption through June 30, 2021, was sent to the Governor for his signature after passing the Senate and House, but as of the date of the writing has not been signed into law yet.

To date, there have been quite a few of these cases filed at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, and most have been disputed by the employers, especially where Covid-19 led to a death or an amputation of a body part.  Some cases have resolved via settlement while others are pending trial.  

The dedicated Workers’ Compensation team at Romanucci & Blandin is grateful for your trust in the past, and we are now applying our decades of combined expertise in the workers’ compensation practice area to the current crisis.  Please be on the lookout for these types of cases in your community. If you, a loved one, or just someone you know, is a COVID-19 front-line worker or first responder who has been diagnosed with Covid-19 and where it was most likely contracted at work, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss the potential case to determine its viability. 

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