Illinois Judge Reverses Workers Compensation Protection For Covid-19 Diagnosis

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.

Illinois Governer Extends Automatic Workers Compensation Coverage To Essential Front Line Workers

Illinois Governer J.B. Pritzker took bold executive action this week by extending Workers’ Compensation coverage to all essential front line workers who believe they contracted the Covid-19 virus while on the job. Pritzker amended the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act to allow front line workers to obtain workers compensation coverage without having to prove throught medical testimony that they actually contracted the virus while on the job.

All other Illinois Workers’ Compensation claims require the Petitioner (employee) prove that their injury or condition was caused on the job. Pritzker wants to eliminate that step for essential workers who are putting their health on the line by going into work every day: ““We owe (essential workers) a debt that we can never fully repay. But to start, we can give them the peace of mind to know that they will be covered if they fall ill on the job.” This amendment to the Act covers health care workers, police and fire personnel, corrections officers, grocery store workers and food producers.

Illinois work comp benefits can include payment of all related medical bills, lost wages (2/3 of your average weekly wage), and permanent disability lump some payments once you are allowed to go back to work.

I applaud Governer Pritzker for taking this step to provide protection to our front line workers. There are no doubt hundreds, if not thousands, of essential workers who will become infected with Covid-19. Allowing employers to deny these claims would be a disservice to these people who are putting their lives on the line day in and day while we deal with this global pandemic.

If you or a loved one was injured at work or has an Illinois Workers’ Compensation claim or a Chicago work accident, then call Chicago work comp lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Mayor Transfers Defense Of City’s Workers’ Compensation Claims To Private Company

Multiple news outlets, including Crain’s Chicago, reported last week that new Chicago Mayor, Lori Lightfoot, has pulled the claims handling of the city’s workers compensation claims away from Alderman Edward Burke and transferred the files to private company Gallagher Basset. Gallagher Basset is often referred to as a Third Party Administrator (“TPA”) that provides claims handling for self-insureds and often larger insurance companies.

Lightfoot’s decision comes after an audit performed by Grant Thorton, concluded “the $100 million-a-year program failed to follow proper industry standards and suffered from “significant control deficiencies and weaknesses that would create an environment” where fraud, waste and abuse could exist. ” It is important to point out that the audit did not specify any specific instances of fraud, but rather the system was open to this type of activity and needed to be operated more efficiently.

This is an interesting turn of events as Alderman Burke was recently indicted by the federal government on charges of attempted extortion of local property developers.

Mayor Lightfoot had the following to say about the audit and transfer of claims to the outside firm: ” Government systems of this magnitude have “no business being operated by a single individual (Burke), with no oversight,” she added. “There’s no point at which Grant Thornton believes this plan was acting anywhere near best industry practices.”

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago work accident or has a Chicago workers’ compensation claim, then call Chicago workers’ comp attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Illinois Governor Pritzker Sign New Toxic Substance Bill Protecting Workers

New Illinois Governor, J.D. Pritzker, did not waste any time on the job protecting workers right. Earlier this month he signed into law Senate Bill 1596, which lifted a 25-year statute of limitation on claims for work diseases caused by toxic substances such as asbestos and radiation. The new law intends to help people diagnosed with latent diseases after exposure to toxic substances in the workplace.

In some cases, the 25-year limit imposed by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act and the Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act is shorter than the medically-recognized time period in which some diseases generally manifest. The new law protects victims’ access to justice beyond that time limit.

This is the type of protection that is needed for workers and incredibly important that the Governor signed this into law. For example, if someone works for years in a plant or a factory that exposes them to toxic substances, and they are not diagnosed with a disease linked to these substances until after 25 years after leaving the job, why should they be punished by banning them from benefits. Certain cancers like mesothelioma can remain latent in someone’s body for years and years, and there is no reason to prevent them from receiving benefits owed to them because the disease didn’t manifest itself earlier than it may have for others. Kudos to Governor Pritzker for making this a priority.

If you or a loved one have become seriously injured in a Chicago work accident or need to file an Illinois Workers’ Compensation claim, then call Chicago workers compensation attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, to help protect your rights at 312-614-1076.