First Responders and Front-Line Workers Who Contract Covid-19 Now Have Easier Access to Benefits Under the IL Workers’ Compensation Act

I write to let you know about a positive development for many workers who have been on the front lines of COVID-19 and have contracted the virus in the current pandemic. For many of those COVID-19 first responders and front-line workers, there is the real possibility that they could have been exposed to the virus in the course of their work, and now the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has acknowledged that risk and will allow those workers to more easily obtain benefits under the IL Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). It’s important to note that in this pandemic the definition of an essential worker has been expanded to include not only medical and public safety professionals, but also those like grocery store workers, who meet the needs of the broader public.

Under emergency authority, Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) Chairman Michael J. Brennan has recognized the serious and deadly nature of the work our first responders and front-line workers are involved in while trying to assist others and save the lives of those afflicted with the COVID-19 virus.  Accordingly, the rules have been changed to more easily allow those workers to collect benefits under the Act.  This means that if you are defined as a front-line worker or first responder and you contract the virus, your condition will be considered to be related to your employment without other proof for purposes of collecting benefits for a workers’ compensation claim 

In announcing this emergency measure, the IWCC noted that this decision ensures those first responders and front-line workers are given the highest level of recourse allowed under the Act. 

COVID-19 front-line workers and first responders include:

-Healthcare workers engaged in patient care

-Emergency medical technicians or paramedics

-Corrections officers

-People who sell groceries, medicine or cannabis products

-Police or Fire personnel (with the exception of Chicago Police Officers and Firefighters, however, who are exempt from the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act)

The dedicated Workers’ Compensation team at Romanucci & Blandin is applying our decades of combined expertise in this practice area to the current crisis. Please be on the lookout for these types of cases in your community. If you or someone you know is a COVID-19 front-line worker or first responder, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss next steps now or in the weeks to come. 



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