Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law a COVID-19 bill that would make it easier for essential employees to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
COVID-19 Bill Effective Immediately
Gov. Pritzker signed the COVID-19 bill, known as HB4276, on Feb. 26, 2021. HB4276 extends the expiration date for an earlier law by six months to June 30, 2021.
The Illinois General Assembly had passed the most recent COVID-19 bill in January. The legislation creates a “rebuttable presumption” that frontline workers, first responders, and essential employees who sustain injury because of a coronavirus infection have done so as part of their employment. In so doing, it lowers the burden of proof for these employees to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
The COVID-19 bill extends this rebuttable presumption to police and fire personnel, corrections officers, healthcare providers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and “essential employees” who are required to interact with the public or work with over fifteen co-employees, along with certain other conditions.
The newly signed COVID-19 bill also increases the timeline in which the deaths of police officers or firefighters from COVID-19 could be designated as a “fatal injury” while they are in active service, permitting their families to apply for line-of-duty death benefits. It further states that an employee who contracts COVID-19 but does not establish the rebuttable presumption would not be prevented from filing a workers’ compensation claim.
The new COVID-19 bill also allows for up to 60 additional days off if an injured employee’s recovery was impacted by the pandemic. For example, if the coronavirus prevented an individual from attending physical therapy at a facility that was closed because of COVID-19, the time that could be taken off would be extended to permit that employee to rehabilitate while receiving workers’ compensation.
Honoring “Difficult Sacrifices”
Gov. Pritzker praised the COVID-19 bill upon its signing for honoring the “difficult sacrifices” of essential employees, first responders, and other qualified workers.
“This legislation ensures that our first responders and frontline essential workers, as well as their families, continue to receive the protection and benefits that they deserve,” he said. “Illinois has made substantial progress in our fight against COVID-19 and it is because of the hard work, and sometimes difficult sacrifices, from our first responders and frontline essential workers. I am proud to sign this legislation as my administration continues to do all it can to protect them, their families, and all our communities.”
Fighting Back Against Insurance Company Denials
While GWC Injury Lawyers LLC applauds the decision to extend workers’ compensation benefits to those who have served the public during this unprecedented pandemic, the newly signed COVID-19 bill does not necessarily mean that these claims will automatically be successful.
In fact, one study found that those who attempt to file for workers’ compensation benefits after contracting the coronavirus face an uphill battle. A significant percentage of these claims have received outright denials from insurance carriers who insist that the claimants could not prove that they contracted COVID-19 in the workplace – even in states like Illinois with a “rebuttable presumption.”
But though these types of claims might be challenging, they are not impossible, particularly if you have GWC’s dedicated Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers in your corner.
With over $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury law firms in Illinois. Our workers’ compensation attorneys have the skills to fight back against questionable insurance company objections so that you and your family can get the justice you deserve.
To schedule a no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation with an experienced lawyer, contact GWC today. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with one of our representatives at any time.