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In these unprecedented times, many families are experiencing uncertainty and grief from the global COVID-19 pandemic. A major source of concern for many families is exposure to coronavirus due to ongoing work obligations.  Essential workers are putting their health and lives on the line to protect others and Illinois has taken steps to ensure that those workers are now protected as well.

On April 13, 2020 the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission enacted an emergency amendment to ensure first-responders and front line workers, who are most susceptible to exposure to COVID-19, are afforded the full protections of the Workers’ Compensation Act in the event they are exposed to or contract the virus. This means that if a firefighter, nurse, police officer, grocery store clerk, delivery truck driver, or any other essential worker is exposed to COVID-19 and requires medical treatment or time off work to fight the disease, they may have viable workers’ compensation cases in the state of Illinois. If you are still working in Illinois, you are an essential worker and may be protected under this amendment.

While typically a worker has to prove that his job caused his injury or illness, the emergency amendment provides that if a worker in an essential employment field is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is presumed that it came from work, unless your employer can prove otherwise.  In such a case, a worker may be entitled to compensation for time off work, medical treatment and permanent effects of the illness.  In the unfortunate event of an essential worker dying from COVID-19 due to exposure at work, the family may also be entitled to further benefits under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act to account for the future lost wages of the deceased worker.

On April 27, 2020 the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission repealed the emergency amendment. However, the Illinois legislature may re-convene to enact similar protections for essential workers.

If you or a loved one has contracted COVID-19 while performing essential work, contact the attorneys at Rapoport Weisberg & Sims to discuss your legal rights.

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