The Illinois General Assembly has extended a COVID-19 law making it easier for essential employees to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
“Rebuttable Presumption” for Frontline Workers
House Bill 2455 was passed in May 2020. The COVID-19 law created a “rebuttable presumption” that frontline workers, first responders, and essential employees who sustained injury because of a coronavirus infection did so as part of their jobs.
The COVID-19 law extended the rebuttable presumption to police and fire personnel, corrections officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and healthcare providers. Additionally, it applied to essential workers as defined under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s March 20th executive order, provided that those workers were required to interact with the public or work with over fifteen co-employees, along with certain other conditions.
Under the same requirements of presumption and qualification, the COVID-19 law also granted line-of-duty death benefits to the families of Chicago police officers and firefighters who died from the coronavirus. The law further stipulated that an employee who contracts COVID-19 but does not establish the rebuttable presumption would not be prevented from filing a workers’ compensation claim under the COVID-19 law or the Workers’ Compensation Act.
COVID-19 Law Extended Six Months
While advocates praised the COVID-19 law for extending possible workers’ compensation benefits to a wider number of vulnerable employees, critics noted that the provision expired on Dec. 31, 2020, far earlier than the coronavirus pandemic was likely to subside. The expanded rebuttable presumption would not apply to any COVID-19 diagnoses made after that date.
But on January 13, the Illinois General Assembly passed House Bill 4276, which extended the deadline for the COVID-19 law another six months, through June 30, 2021. Gov. Pritzker is expected to sign the bill into law.
“This law was a fair compromise that protects workers without unduly burdening businesses,” said State Senator Bill Cunningham, who led the Illinois Senate on the extension. “It encourages businesses to protect their employees to the best of their ability and gives workers who aren’t protected more resources to help them recover.”
The additional provisions in the COVID-19 law, including expanded line-of-duty death benefits for the families of police and firefighters, would also be extended.
“We all need to thank our first responders and essential workers for their incredible dedication and sacrifice during this crisis,” said Cunningham. “They’ve helped Illinois, and so many of its residents make it through this terrible situation.”
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Serving COVID-19 Victims
As one of the leading workers’ compensation law firms in Illinois, GWC Injury Lawyers LLC applauds the state’s decision to extend protections for the brave essential workers who contract COVID-19 while serving the public during this unprecedented moment in history.
If you have been hurt on the job, whether through exposure to COVID-19 or in some other way, do what so many other injured employees have done before you and reach out to GWC. With over $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, our Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers have the experience, the determination, the resources, and the reputation of success necessary to get you and your family the justice you deserve.