On Thursday, May 21, 2020, the Illinois Senate passed HB2455 to create the “Presumption” noted below: that exposure to COVID-19 Coronavirus will be presumed to have arisen out of and occurred in the scope of employment and presumed to have been caused by exposure at work. If there are facts to rebut this, an Employer can raise that issue and attempt to rebut the presumption. The law is expected to be passed by the Illinois house on May 22 and later expected to be signed by Governor Pritzker.
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Protection is perhaps the most-pressing worry on every person’s mind during these dangerous and frightening times. The world is in the grips of a global health crisis. But this pandemic has shone a stark light on the jobs that are critical when a deadly virus rages through the population. First, it is obvious that medical providers are at the heart of society’s response to the coronavirus illness. Doctors and nurses are on the front lines in Intensive Care Units and Emergency Rooms. But they are supported by other front-line staff, including aides, hospital staff, maintenance staff, and the EMT’s who transport patients to hospitals.
All of these healthcare workers are exposed to COVID-19 daily. They are not the only ones. As noted in the Emergency Executive Order that Illinois residents “stay home,” other “essential” work covers workers involved in the preparation and delivery of food; utility workers must continue to provide heat, electricity and telecommunications services; some government workers must keep the Unemployment office running or the Courts quietly open (even if in modified form). The rule defines First Responders and Front-Line Workers to include those positions and many more.
When a worker files a claim for an “Occupational Exposure,” they must prove that the condition “arose out of and in the course of employment.” The law also requires the worker prove “Causation.” Meaning that the exposure caused the symptoms. The change to Sec. 9030.70 of the Rules of Evidence amends both those requirements for qualifying workers.
Now, for First Responders and Front-Line Workers, Work Comp will presume that exposure to COVID-19 arose out of employment. Additionally, there is also a presumption that exposure to the coronavirus caused the need for medical care and lost time at work. This relieves the burden of proof for these critical workers who expose themselves to grave risk to make society function. It means that Work Comp. insurers will not be able to make frivolous claims to avoid liability for sick workers during the emergency.
The injury lawyers of Coogan Gallagher remain active during this challenging time. We work remotely in order to protect ourselves and everyone else in accordance with the Governor’s Orders. But we are able to file new claims and communicate with the insurers to get the benefits you need when injured at work, including an exposure to a dangerous disease. Contact us with any questions you may have (by phone, email or the contact button in the corner). Stay protected and exercise care for yourselves and your neighbors.