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In Illinois, a nurse may be entitled to workers compensation benefits for being diagnosed with coronavirus. This article outlines how and why. Please note that this article is written by Madison County workers compensation lawyers for nurses and other healthcare workers working in Illinois. Other states have different laws governing workers' compensation.
It is acceptable for a nurse or other healthcare worker to file a workers' compensation claim for an infectious disease that is caused by an identifiable occurrence. 820 ILCS 310/1(d). In the course of a normal workers' compensation case, the employee must show the accident occurred at work. Yet, this burden is eased for exposures in the occupational disease case. The employee shall be deemed to have been exposed when, for any length of time he or she is employed in an occupation in which the hazard exists. Here, coronavirus is being treated a hospitals all around the world. Workers who are most at-risk are those who cannot abide by the "shelter in place" Orders. This include nurses and other healthcare workers.
A nurse or other healthcare worker is even more exposed because these individuals must expose themselves to the virus to treat those with the virus. Under the Act, a worker must show some connection between the exposure at work and contracting the virus. 820 ILCS 310/1(d). This could be as simple as evidence you treated a coronavirus patient. Note, the exposure has to be greater than that of the regular public, but here, it would be shown assuming the nurse's hospital or treatment location had a case of coronavirus. If the nurse works outside the hospital, the nurse would need to provide the connection between his or her contracting the virus and the employment. For instance, treating coronavirus positive patients in home healthcare or at a clinic. Once the connection is made, the nurse may be eligible for benefits.
Some additional considerations include giving notice to the employer. Under the Act, you must give notice of disablement when reasonably practical. In the context of a coronavirus outbreak, this would seem obvious- when you are quarantined or test positive. Also, you will need to show the coronavirus caused or contributed to the condition and symptoms you are experiencing.
Pre-existing conditions made worse by coronavirus are compensable in Illinois. There are a line of cases that stand for that proposition. In other words, you have a pre-existing respiratory illness; you contract corona and become really sick. You may be entitled to have your work comp benefits pay for all treatment, lost wages, and award you a lump sum.
If you are a nurse or other healthcare worker and you contract coronavirus from work, you may be entitled to workers compensation benefits. These benefits include lost wages, medical payments, and lump sum awards.
Contact our office for a phone or virtual appointment. If we can help, we will get you your benefits as fast as possible.