Illinois Rules Front-Line Workers Eligible for Corona Work Comp
For weeks, I have been informing nurses that workers compensation is available to them. (READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE BECAUSE THERE ARE NUANCES) Now, Illinois has issued an emergency rules change provided that all front line employees who contract coronavirus will be eligible for workers compensation. Please remember a presumption does not make a guarantee.
What is the Illinois Workers Compensation Claim Rule Change?
The following is the language used by the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission related to COVID-19.
Who Is A First Responder or Front-Line Worker?
This applies to specific workers, known as "First Responders" or "Front-Line Workers." Do you qualify? It is more expansive than you might think.
I am not a First Responder or Front-Line Worker. Can I apply for work comp?
If you do not qualify as a first responder or front-line worker, you can still pursue a workers compensation claim for COVID-19, but you will not receive the presumption this rule change creates. The presumption is important, but it is not conclusive of the workers compensation claim.
If anyone can apply? Why is the presumption important?
The presumption makes receiving workers compensation benefits easier because you don't have the burden of proving you were infected at work. You show up and if your employer can't show you were infected somewhere else, you win. In a normal workers compensation case, you as the petitioner have the burden to show you were infected or injured at work. Thus, this presumption places the burden on the employer instead of you.
Will my employer still challenge my work comp benefits?
Possibly. Could your employer still win even if you are a first responder or front-line worker? Yes. Illinois has created a "rebuttable" presumption. This means the employer can refute your allegation. This is a very important distinction. You could be a qualifying front line employee or first responder and your employer can put on evidence that you received your infection from some place other than work. Thus, this rule is very helpful, but it is not conclusive. It is not a guarantee of benefits.
You will likely need a workers compensation attorney to help you- especially if your employer tries to rebut the presumption.