I wrote a few weeks back about Illinois Governer JB Pritzker’s announcement that all Illinois essential workers who become infected with Covid-19 would have automatic workers’ compensation protection. In other words, they would not have to prove the usual step that their injury (“Covid diagnosis”) was directly caused while working within the course and scope of their employment. Following this order and amendment to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order blocking this change to the Act.
The temporary restraining order was granted by a Sangamon County judge. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission immediately issued a statement stating: “The commission voted unanimously this morning to repeal the emergency rules that took effect April 16.” It is unclear whether this ruling by the judge will be appealed or whether the Illinois legislature will take this up and vote on making an ammendment to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.
This is an unfortunate turn of events as essential workers such as nurses, medical professionals, retail workers and delivery drivers will not have automatic protection despite risking their health by going into work every day. If these essential workers do become infected with Covid-19, and they believe it happened while at work, they still have the right to file an Illinois Workers’ Compensation claim. Although, their attorney will have to prove at trial that the Covid-19 was caused while at work. This would need to be done through medical expert testimony. Basically, a doctor would have to testify (either through their records or at deposition) that they believe within a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the worker’s Covid-19 diagnosis was caused by their exposure at work as a front-line essential worker. These claims can be made, it will just be a lot more difficult without an amendment to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.
If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a Chicago work accident or have an Illinois workers compensation claim, please call Chicago work comp attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.